January 28, 2010

CONLAMIC: Response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union Speech

Washington, DC - The Chairman of the National Coalition Of Latino Clergy And Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) expressed profound disappointment after President Barack Obama's State of the Union remarks due to the vague comments delivered on the most important civil rights issue of the 21st century: Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

"President Obama said almost nothing regarding the urgent need to revamp and correct our broken immigration laws," said Rev. Miguel Rivera, Chairman of CONLAMIC.

After almost one hour of remarks President Obama mentioned the issue bit his statement clearly lacked a sense of commitment to achieve a comprehensive solution to the immigration problem.

Nothing in his speech gave the assurance that any specific immigration reform efforts by this administration will be directed or accomplished. He did not state his intention to move forward with a legalization initiative. Latino's in the United States expect President Obama to comply with his promise to prioritize Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

" We are deeply disappointed and frustrated in President Obama's omission of the comprehensive immigration reform issue, which is of critical importance to Latino's who mobilized to help put him into the White House. More than 67% of Latino voted for him, including many of our members, conservative evangelical leaders," said Rev. Rivera.

CONLAMIC's National Board of Directors will convene Wednesday, February 3rd, to analyze further the situation and consider a response to what CONLAMIC leaders consider a misguided presidential strategy for the next midterm elections.

CONLAMIC pastors will increase its efforts to empower its undocumented church members by encouraging them to not be counted in the 2010 Census. Leaders see it as a matter of principle as they are committed to the protection and well being of millions of undocumented immigrants who are members of Hispanic Christian churches," conclude Rev. Miguel Rivera.

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January 27, 2010

Latino Evangelical Pastors Condemn Andre Bauer's Insults and Demand Resignation!

Greenville, SC - The National Coalition Of Latino Clergy And Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) and the South Carolina Latino Clergy Council called an emergency meeting on Saturday, January 30th of their members for the purpose of voting on a resolution to condemn Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer's recent comments against low income families and to demand his immediate resignation.

"CONLAMIC-South Carolina Latino evangelical pastors and church leaders, are ready to fight; first, with a letter addressed to the South Carolina State Legislature and the Republican Party, condemning the extremist views and insulting remarks by Mr. Bauer," said Rev. Miguel Rivera, CONLAMIC Chairman of the Board of Directors

Conlamic pastors report that once again, Mr. Bauers actions demonstrate alarming racial intolerance and arrogance in his interview with USA Today this morning in which he compares low income families who are struggling to make ends meet with "stray animals who- once fed, they breed" as per the USA Today reports this morning.

"The people of South Carolina have recently suffered the humiliation of Governor Mark Stanford's scandalous behavior, and now, Mr. Bauer, follows by making immoral and racist comments that insult the people of his own state. We demand retribution," said Rev. Julio Sotero, President of the South Carolina Latino Clergy Council, representing over 250 evangelical Hispanic churches in the state of South Carolina.

CONLAMIC, the largest Latino evangelical advocacy organization in United States and Puerto Rico, representing over 20,000 pastors, based in Washington DC, will provide legal and media strategic assistance to its affiliates in South Carolina, to confront this latest assault against all minorities. Rev. Rivera, its Chairman will travel to the state immediately.

"South Carolina needs to be healed from the bad behavior politicians with despicable actions who still behave as if the white rich elite are still the owners of the South. They must open their eyes and look around at their true surroundings and embrace diversity, " said Rev. Sotero.

Thousands of Latino conservative evangelical leaders are also unemployed and suffering the wrongdoings of liberal spending and out of touch politicians in DC.

The CONLAMIC Leaders' meeting will be held, Saturday, January 30th at 1200 Woodruff Road, Suite E-1, Greenville, SC 29607 (864) 297-0950 at 10:00am.

Weather permitting, a prayer vigil will be announced at the steps of the Greenville's City Hall urging action by the Republican leaders and SC legislators against Mr. Bauer.

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January 21, 2010

Latino Pastors Urge President Obama To Activate TPS For Undocumented Immigrants

Washington, DC - The National Coalition Of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) delivered a letter to President Barack Obama, just as his first year in office has come to an end, and after the Massachusetts election,(which resulted a victory that gave Republicans the votes needed stop Democrat legislative initiatives in the Senate). The letter from CONLAMIC to the President urges that he move forward immediately in issuing an Executive Order, which would authorize Temporary Protective Status for all undocumented immigrants and stop Deportations.

"In light of the Massachusetts senate race outcome, its unlikely that President Obama will keep the promise that he made to Latinos to achieve Comprehensive Immigration Reform," said Rev. Miguel Rivera, Chairman of CONLAMIC.

Since 2007, Democrats have lost precious time. They have had control of both legislative chambers; to avoid fixing the broken immigration system is reprehensible and irresponsible and Pastors witness the fact that this places millions of families in more danger today by this Administration's enhancement of enforcement only approach to immigration.

"We urge President Obama to act quickly to exercise executive powers to bring peace and justice to millions of hard-working, Christian families affected by this matter," said Rev. Miguel Rivera.

Latino pastors nationwide, members of CONLAMIC, remain strong in their resolve and conviction as they remind both political entities that the Latino swing vote is more valuable for this coming 2010 midterm elections. The pattern of lies and broken promises will hurt more present incumbents.

Today, CONLAMIC is calling for a "Day of Fasting and Prayer" on behalf of President Barack Obama with an understanding that we still expect him to comply with his word.

We urge the President to call to STOP all Deportations and Temporary Protective Status for undocumented immigrants as the only alternative available at this time.

We pray that President Obama will move immediately with this Presidential Order.

Millions undocumented immigrants of Irish, Polish, Asian, Hispanic and other European descent are waiting for action by this President that if delivered, will be an outstanding accomplishment will contribute to building confidence among these communities that will lead to a more accurate and successful CENSUS 2010," concluded Rev. Rivera.

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January 15, 2010

Latino Evangelical Pastors To Launch Fight Against Hate Crimes In America

Washington, DC -The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC), consisting of leaders representing 20,000 churches in America, recently approved a resolution that places hate crimes at the top of its agenda for 2010. This year, in response to rising reports from church leaders regarding increasing numbers of victimization's due to bias against Hispanics, CONLAMIC leaders will launch a campaign to fight hate crimes.

“The case of Luis Ramirez, the Mexican immigrant who was beaten to death by a number of local boys in the Pennsylvania town of Shenandoah is only one example of the injustices that are happening to members of our community due to their race and ethnicity,” said Rev. Miguel Rivera, Chairman of CONLAMIC.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation publishes an annual report on hate crimes in America. Much more needs to be done in order to ensure effective reporting of hate crimes by law enforcement agencies.
FBI has documented that hate crimes committed against Hispanics and those perceived to be immigrants has increased in each of the past four years.

The good news is that in November, President Barack Obama signed into law the "Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act” (HCPA). HCPA is essential legislation that closes gaps in existing federal authority to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated crimes.

“Latino Pastors want to support tough hate crime laws and vigorous enforcement, while educating communities to stop bigotry and bringing attention to this growing problem,” said Rev. Rivera.

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January 13, 2010

Census Confidentiality? The Check's is in the Mail

by David Kopel, an associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

Some promises shouldn't be taken seriously. "The check is in the mail," or "Of course I'll respect you in the morning," or "I won't raise taxes." To that list should be added, "Your answers to census questions will remain completely confidential."

Already this census season, many of homeless people have refused to divulge personal information to census takers. Some of the homeless have fears that their personal plight will be revealed to far-away relatives. That intuitive distrust of the Census Bureau may be valid.

During the 1940 census, American citizens of Japanese descent dutifully noted their forebears' ethnicity on the census form. Those Japanese-Americans believed the Census Bureau assurance that their answers would remain secret. But in 1942 the federal government began rounding up citizens who were of Japanese descent and imprisoning them in concentration camps. How did the Justice Department know where to find Japanese-Americans? The Census Bureau told them.

David Kopel is an associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

The bureau kept its promise of confidentiality, it never disclosed any individual's name and address. Instead, the bureau told the Justice Department's concentration camp office when census tracts (small neighborhoods) had high proportions of citizens with Japanese ancestry. Knowing which neighborhoods to concentrate on, the concentration camp officials descended for house-to-house searches.

Today illegal or recently legalized aliens may fear deportation. If in the late 1990s the United States suffered an unexpected resurgence of racism and xenophobia, how would the Department of Justice know which neighborhoods to search for illegal aliens? The Census Bureau would probably hand over lists of neighborhoods with high proportions of low-income People with Hispanic or Caribbean ancestry. It is little wonder that many, recent immigrants refuse to cooperate with the census.

When other government agencies call for assistance, the Census Bureau may not even keep its word about the sanctity of data on individual households. During World War. I the bureau turned over the name-and-address lists to the Justice Department for use in the search for draft resisters.

Even Americans who don't fear persecution or prosecution may be concerned about census confidentiality. The Census Bureau is already advertising its new commercial product that will. help marketers and credit bureaus zero in on individual households. The TIGER (Topical Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing) system will "include demographic data by census block." (A census block comprises 200 or fewer people.)

Names and addresses will be omitted, but most of the other "confidential" census data will be divulged -- including those on marital status, health and income.

Credit bureaus such as TRW, which already have vast computer files on nearly everyone, will be able to use TIGER to find out a good deal more. For example, the census long form asks how many cars a household owns.

TRW could buy the data for a census block and find. that only one household in the block owns three cars. As a credit-reporting service, TIM might already have a file on a particular household in the area that 64 taken out three car loan. TRW, by matching this data with the TIGER data, could then use "confidential" census information to learn about the income, dependents, house size, race ethnicity and marital status of members of the household.

The Census Bureau, since it did not disclose anyone's name and address, would claim that it had kept its vow of confidentiality.

The federal government has gone into the business of helping commercial enterprises find out. intimate personal data, such as the fact that an unmarried couple is living together. The legality of the Census Bureau's operating as a reporting service for businesses is dubious.

The Constitution authorizes a census for the purpose of congressional apportionment and for direct. taxation (a tax based on the population of a state). For those constitutional purposes, a simple name and address questionnaire would suffice.

The Census Bureau has shied away from legal confrontations over its extensive, collection of personal information. The. penalty for refusing to -answer the census is only $100, and false answers, bring a penalty of only $500. Yet the bureau did not prosecute a single nonrespondent in 1980.

Perhaps the Census Bureau is afraid of what courts would do with a census case. In West Germany in the early 1980s, a census boycott and then a court injunction delayed the census for several years. When Germany's highest court finally heard the case, it ruled that many citizens could refuse to answer many census questions such as those about place of employment number of automobiles, health and income.

In the United States those questions still must be answered on the long census form, but the bureau steers clear of a court test of their legality. Homeless people, recent immigrants and people with an old-fashioned skepticism about big government probably will continue to resist a government agency that has turned itself into a for-profit adjunct of the credit bureaus.

See story...

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January 11, 2010

Hispanic groups at odds over census

By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

4:53 p.m. Friday, January 8, 2010

While government officials blanket the area to encourage participation in the 2010 Census, some Hispanic groups are at odds as to whether to stand up and be counted.

The Rev. Antonio Mansogo, president of the Confraternity of Pastors and Ministers of Atlanta, is advising undocumented residents to avoid the census. He said the failure of lawmakers to enact immigration reform and the implementation of the new inmate screening program, known as 287g, has raised suspicions among Hispanics.

"With the absence of immigration reform, we are very concerned," Mansogo said. "As you know, the 287g program is causing so many problems. The bridge that used to be between the police and the Latino community is completely broken."

He said the National Coalition of Latino Clergy is mounting drives to boycott the census in order to pressure Congress for immigration reform. That group, headed by the Rev. Miguel Rivera, supports an immediate legalization plan that will allow undocumented immigrants to pay a fine and comply with rigorous guidelines in order for them to be considered eligible for permanent residency status.

Mansogo, pastor of the Ministerio Pentecostal Central de Atlanta in Norcross, said the drive is gaining ground in Gwinnett County, which has the largest Hispanic population in Georgia. Based on his community contacts and lukewarm turnout for census forums, he said he is convinced 75 percent of the undocumented Latino community will not participate.

"They want to bring them out of the shadow without any guarantees," he said. "We believe it is immoral to con these people out of the shadows so [the governments] can receive federal funds, then use the same money to persecute them."

But Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, blasted the boycott, saying it will drive an already under-represented group further into the shadows.

"Pastor Rivera's call for a boycott is irresponsible, and it's dangerous," he said. "He's encouraging undocumented immigrants to be invisible, which is the same thing anti-immigrant groups, such as the Minutemen, want."

Gonzalez said the boycott movement is spreading fear and untruths about the census.

"If you want immigration reform, we must work through the political process," he said. "It's important, because it's about power and money for our communities."

Gonzalez said his group is leading an effort with more than 100 organizations and cities to advocate a complete count of residents.

Under-reporting could spell trouble for local governments because, as the true Hispanic population rises, the county cannot keep up with its needs, said Tanikia Jackson, grants manager for Gwinnett County. Census numbers are a major component of the federal grant funding formula, she said.

"If our population remains stagnant or decreases, it will have a significant impact on the funding because that is the driving force for us to receive the amount of money we receive," she said.

Last year, Gwinnett County received $58 million in federal grant funding.

Steve North, director of support services, said the county is coordinating with cities to form a governmental committee, which will use its resources to encourage participation and locate hard-to-find groups that often go under-counted.

North said he is also working to form a community committee, comprised of church, business and service groups who will fan out through their communities to promote census participation.

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Hispanics hold key to churches future: Spanish-speaking churches grow in Nashville

By Chris Echegaray

THE TENNESSEAN


The temperature outside was freezing and the heat was broken, but worshippers packed the pews at Iglesia de Dios anyway, singing and praying, many with children on their laps.


The noon service was his third of the day, but Jose Rodriguez seemed more energetic than ever. The founder of Nashville's megachurch shed his coat, clapping and swaying near the band, raising his hands to heaven. Next year, he'll lead his flock of 2,000 from its church building on East Trinity Lane to a 25-acre site three miles away.

On the other side of the city, four vest-wearing attendants directed the stream of traffic from Nolensville Pike into parking for Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. As though he couldn't wait another minute, a man dropped to his knees and began praying in the pew nearest the entrance as church quickly filled to its 1,200-person capacity.

Two years ago, Our Lady of Guadalupe was a Spanish-speaking mission attached to an English-speaking church. On Dec. 12, it became the first all-Hispanic parish in the state, with 550 families worshipping there.

The dramatic growth of Spanish-language churches in Nashville is drawing the attention of national religious groups, who say Hispanic recruitment will be key to ensuring mainstream Christian churches' future. At the same time, demographers and theologians say, these newcomers will set their own social agendas and test Christianity's claim to be a universal religion that accepts all races and ethnicities.

Immigration and high birth rates have made Hispanics the nation's fastest-growing demographic group. Tennessee was home to 123,838 Hispanics in 2000, and new census figures are likely to show that number doubling over the decade. In Middle Tennessee, Hispanics are concentrated in Davidson and Rutherford counties, where they make up 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, of the population.

No organization tracks Spanish-language churches or missions of mainstream churches overall, but anecdotal information from local pastors and researchers puts the figure at about 200 in Middle Tennessee.

Ed Stetzer, director of Baptist-affiliated LifeWay Research, said 66 percent of all new congregations added to the Southern Baptist Convention since 1998 were ethnic or African-American. He said English-language churches that grow are the ones adding Spanish speakers.

"The majority of the new churches are not Anglo," he said. "You look across the spectrum, and the Christian influence in the Southern Hemisphere is well represented here, and it's the leading edge of Christianity. Latino churches are now planting Latino churches."

Reaching out to help Mainstream pastors are still learning how to minister to these newcomers, said Tim Hill, who handles ethnic church planting for the Tennessee Baptist Convention. They are using English classes, Spanish-language Bible study and partnerships with Hispanic churches to attract membership. Hill calls it helping with their "social, physical and spiritual" needs.

"Our churches have never done Hispanic ministry and didn't know how to reach people with a different language, culture and religion," he said. "It's changing the way we're ministering to communities."

Methodists created a Latino leadership academy in Tennessee in 2007. The same year, they spent $1,750 on Hispanic ministries, said the Rev. John Purdue, chairman of Hispanic ministry for the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Last year, they spent $127,000.


Purdue said he noticed the growing demographic in Nashville and smaller Tennessee towns and urged churches to launch English as a Second Language programs, provide immigration aid and help with food, shelter and medical care.


Nearly 70 percent of Hispanics in America identify themselves as Catholic, but Pentecostals and nondenominational evangelicals, at 15 percent, are making the greatest gains among the group, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a nonprofit research group.


"Their outreach capability is unrivaled," said Luis Lugo, the forum's director. "They are aggressively recruiting, connecting with immigrants, and have a sense of community."


Lugo said evangelicals reach Hispanics before and after their arrival to the United States. Their missionary work is personal. They offer social change, a closer relationship with God and an emotional brand of Christianity that resonates with their potential members.


At Iglesia de Dios, founder Rodriguez, who has given himself the title executive bishop, encourages all members to recruit newcomers to one of the four services held every Sunday. Services are broadcast on three AM radio frequencies owned by the church. His sermons mix current events with biblical homilies, and he ends almost every statement by raising his right hand to the heavens in a prayer for resolution.


On Jan. 3, services started with two video clips from Spanish-language newscasts, played on a big screen at the front of the auditorium. One was about immigration reform, the other about the 2010 U.S. census. Rodriguez passionately prayed for worshippers who need help getting their immigration status in order. He told members living in the U.S. legally to help the undocumented immigrants among them.

It began with a prayer Fifteen years ago, Iglesia de Dios was Rodriguez, his wife and their five children. He and his wife taught grade school in Caracas, Venezuela, and took missionary trips when they could. They first saw Nashville in 1994, when they rushed a son with Kawasaki disease — a rare illness that involves inflammation of blood vessels and lymph nodes — to Vanderbilt's children's hospital.

Despite doctors' fears, the child pulled through. "We started to pray there," Rodriguez said. "It's one of the reasons we wanted to come and start our church in Nashville."

He said it has been easy to attract new members. "They get orientation, education and information, and the individual makes his decision. No manipulation."

All members are encouraged to invite someone they know, often from work. It's how Juan Bustamante, a lapsed Catholic and a heavy-machine operator from Oaxaca, Mexico, found out about the church.

"The focus is for a better life for our families, so we can be healthy, be good people, have a good home," Bustamante said.

Today, Iglesia de Dios congregants fill parking lots of neighboring businesses on Sundays. They are slated to move to a new building on Dickerson Pike in 2011, one where members can get job training, English classes and tutoring, but that will depend on fundraising from a flock already financially pressed.

Merry Osorio, who studied journalism in Mexico, came to Nashville from near Cancun with her 6-year-old son nearly a decade ago, planning to work for a weekly Spanish-language newspaper. She was excited about the new venture, even if it meant moving to a place without established friends or relatives and, because she was unchurched, no religious family, either.
It didn't go well, she said.

"The pay was really bad, and it was a cut-and-paste operation," Osorio said. "I ended up working at Wendy's because it paid more."

Osorio wasn't discouraged. During her trying times, a friend took her to Iglesia de Dios, where she has been a member for six years. Today, she's a successful property manager.

"We know God has everything under control," she said. God sent a message, but while Hispanic congregations like Iglesia de Dios and Our Lady of Guadalupe have amassed huge numbers, most in the area consist of about a hundred congregants meeting in storefronts or borrowing space from mainstream churches.

Pastor Rosalba Hernandez and her husband started Centro Cristiano El Faro De Luz (Beacon of Light) nearly eight years ago in their apartment. A couple of times police knocked on their door because the praising was a bit loud.

Later, they met in the basement of an English-speaking church in Paragon Mills, then outgrew their own small church on Nolensville Pike, then moved to the current location on Bell Road behind a collision repair shop. The 165 members meet in what used to be a grocery store.

Hernandez grew up Catholic but ventured into reading tarot cards and spiritual healing. She was living in Southern California when she got a message her lifestyle wasn't working.
"God came to me and told me he did not agree with what I was doing," she said, sitting in her office, where her citizenship paperwork hangs framed on the wall.

"I thought what I was doing took me closer to God," she added. "It turns out everything I was doing was wrong."

Hernandez said the Lord's message was clear: Sell your belongings and start a church in the middle of the country. With no family close by and no job prospects, the couple sold all their belongings and came to Nashville.

"At first, I didn't see Hispanic churches here," she said. "(Now) here we are with lots of others."
Some leave Catholicism.

The people who join Our Lady of Guadalupe generally were practicing Catholics when they arrived from Central and South America. While the all-Spanish parish is a first for Tennessee, it's not expected to set a trend, said Rick Musacchio, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville. Half the 52 parishes statewide offer Spanish Mass, and attendance varies from year to year.

"Much of the Hispanic presence here is by migrants, and the economy has had an impact in reducing the number," he said.

Seven years ago, Soledad Garcia and her family moved to Nashville from Miami. She and her sister, who were already established here, started attending St. Edward Church, where Our Lady of Guadalupe was a mission.

Garcia, originally from Peru, said it was a special moment to watch a Catholic bishop oversee the new church's inauguration.

"There's spiritual growth too," Garcia said. "People are giving, and it will continue to grow. We even have about 180 children getting ready for Communion."

Ten years ago, Juan Andres Salinas was one of the first Hispanics to attend St. Luke's Catholic Church in Smyrna. The church launched a Spanish Mass, and on Sundays, attendance is at 250 and growing. A small crowd gathered for Epiphany Mass — known as Three Kings Day — on Wednesday.

Salinas became St. Luke's de facto representative of the Hispanic community, volunteering for fundraisers plus organizing and training newcomers as numbers swelled.
"We were very few and now … too much," he said wryly.

But the Rev. Miguel Rivera, chairman of the board of directors of the Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, said growth in Hispanic churches will stay with the evangelicals as many Catholics depart the denomination of their youth.

Rivera said some Hispanics left Catholicism over the church's priest scandals, the inflexibility regarding marriage for priests, and political alignments by the church in some Latin American nations.

"The truth is that those issues have hurt them," Rivera said. "And all of a sudden there's been a 20-year explosion with evangelical charismatics."

Still, Hispanic Catholics and evangelicals, he said, tend to align on a social agenda: against abortion and same-sex marriage and for universal health care and swift immigration reform.

They are parting on one issue: Rivera's group wants Hispanic immigrants to boycott the 2010 census to show anger over a lack of movement on immigration reform. Other religious leaders want them to be counted to show the group's potential power as a voting bloc and to attract federal grant money.

The next trend to watch is how many small Hispanic churches will be absorbed into large, predominantly English-speaking congregations, said Ellen Armour, a theology professor at Vanderbilt University's Divinity School. She said Christianity is increasingly shifting from a white, European faith to include more Hispanics.

"It's both a challenge and real opportunity for Anglo-Christians to learn something about diversity in a wide range of cultures," she said.

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January 04, 2010

National Evangelical Latino Pastors Declare War Against Hate Crimes And Domestic Violence

Washington, DC - The National Coalition Of Latino Clergy And Christian Leaders is urging State Legislatures to develop and push legislation against Hate Crimes and Domestic Violence after CONLAMIC Executive Committee Members approved a resolution calling all Latino Evangelical Pentecostal and Christian Churches around the Country to advocate for stronger legislation and law enforcement against both social malices.

"Hate crimes and Domestic Violence have become a very serious problem that needs to be addressed immediately with further education, public policy and law enforcement actions," said Rev. Rivera, CONLAMIC Chairman of the Board of Directors

"We must take these issues seriously as a Nation and work to condem and stop the violence in our communities,"said Rev. Rivera.

Latino Pastors around the country are reporting an increase in hate crimes and domestic violence crimes due to various issues. According to CONLAMIC leaders, the economy, unemployment, racial animosity and immigration are main factors brought to our attention, which moves us to take this strong action.

"The Christian Church in America, cannot keep quite or look the other way, while our communities are torn apart because of hate and anger that develops into a social cancer that destroys fundamental principles of dignity and respect for human life, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or legal status," said Rev. Rivera.

CONLAMIC's resolution calls for an amendment to the organization's core platform, to include Hate Crimes and Domestic Violence as issues of grave concern to the Christian Faith and its focused advocacy efforts.

During the CONLAMIC Annual General Conference this spring in Washington DC, Pastors and Bishops representing various ecclesiastical denominations will participate on various panels with behavioral experts and law enforcement representatives to inform and empower church lay leaders about both issues and develop an educational campaign among church members.

January 03, 2010

NPR Story: What Debate? Latino Census Boycott Is Necessary

by Miguel Rivera

April 1, 2010 marks Census Day — and for many undocumented Latino immigrants across America, the call to boycott the census is based on principle: immigration reform must be brought to policymakers' attention. It may be a radical approach — one especially difficult to understand or support for those unaffected by immigration policy — but the call serves an important purpose for undocumented and documented immigrants alike. The sadness and agony undocumented Latino individuals and their families endure is heartbreaking; it is my hope that through reform, their cause can be better understood and addressed.

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) is a united effort of over 20,000 Hispanic inner city and rural churches that are enriched with integrity and committed to this boycott for reform. Our goal to draw notice to immigration reform through requesting undocumented Latinos to boycott the 2010 census is brought on out of necessity — without dramatic attention focused towards the issue now, there is no telling when significant immigration reform might materialize.

Pastors of small congregations in the "barrios Latinos" (Latino neighborhoods), for example, have an accurate read on what undocumented life is like and understand the consequences of discrimination. Current laws make life tremendously strenuous for undocumented immigrants — immigrants who want to participate in community and political life but are rendered incapable because of their citizenship status. Elected officials are only accountable for their voting constituencies and undocumented immigrants, frankly, cannot vote. It is excruciating to sit and watch these officials do little to assist, support or listen to immigration reform suggestions and demands.

There are those who argue this call for a census boycott will do more harm than good. I challenge them to relate to the pain and suffering of broken homes, the incarceration of mothers with their children, or the deportation of a pastor who has established a proven and beneficial ministry for the spiritual needs of a whole community. What is it like to feel exiled? To feel cast away, ignored and powerless?

Positive, constructive change is desperately needed — but it has been difficult to gain traction and attention on this pressing issue. We urge members of Congress to pass a fair, decent, and humane comprehensive immigration reform bill. Though such efforts have been stalled, we must continue to preach and insist: legalization before enumeration. Only after this legislative task is accomplished can a complete and accurate count of all the American population be achievable.

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