Where is the “center” of immigration issues in the United States today? Is it there, in Arivaca, on that shrubby plain, surrounded by the discarded items of migrants en route? Is it at Paso del Norte, under the bridge that connects El Paso to Juarez, where thousands of migrants huddle together, freezing and hungry? Is it in the White House, where the administration routinely dehumanizes and criminalizes migrants?
Date: March 25, 2019
Location: IFCLA office, 5021 Adkins Ave., room 122
After a welcome and time for connecting around the prompt “Share one good thing that happened to you today,” meeting facilitator Sara John (IFCLA’s executive director) offered a reflection from the book Mujerista Theology by Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz.
Featured topic: Honduras
Ellen Ziegemeier, IFCLA board president, presented an account of the country’s recent history from her unique perspective first as a Peace Corp volunteer and later as a resident. Ellen is also a liaison between IFCLA and the Honduras Solidarity Network, which is committed to solidarity with social movements within Honduras as well as education within the United States and Canada about the impacts of our governments’ decisions and actions related to Latin America.
The Advisory Committee is an affirming, welcoming space where members learn from each other and share their own experiences around a new topic each meeting. The group—rejuvenated in 2018 in response to IFCLA’s determination to live up to its bylaws—helps ensure that new ideas flow into our work from many different voices.
From communications to fund development and international delegations to design thinking, we try to dig deep into topics, both energizing us for our daily work and encouraging us to dream big for the future. The Advisory Committee is not a governing body. Rather, its goal is to generate many insights that will be helpful not only to IFCLA, but to other organizations and individuals in their own work.
The work of two of IFCLA’s interns, Mary Louise Pabello and Yareli Urbina, was presented as part of the poster session and a verbal presentation at the Xth Annual Cambio de Colores conference held at UMSL June 14-17. The conference theme this year was , “Todos Juntos: Collaboration and Unity in Uncertain Times.”
Mary Louise and Ellie shared preliminary findings of their immigrant oral history project and community survey regarding immigrant detention in the St. Louis area. As both interns finish up their time at IFLCA, they will prepare to transfer the study and oral history project onto the next leaders of the Migration Justice Committee. Congratulations on a job well done, ladies!
On June 7-9, St. Louis was represented by 5 women from three organizations (IFCLA, the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action (MICA) Project, and St. Francis Community Services Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry—CLAM) at a conference in Houston, Texas, sponsored by the Center for Migration Studies of New York, the Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance of Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston, the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, and South Texas College of Law Houston. IFCLA, MICA Project and CLAM are also active participants in St. Louis’s Immigrant Service Providers Network (ISPN), a group that seeks to support the foreign born and their families in the St. Louis region by increasing community resources, advocating for inclusive policies and services, and educating residents and providers.
IFCLA was thrilled to welcome Juan Carlos Morales Penetro and Gabriel Torreblanca Flores to St. Louis in April, who shared their expertise and experience as attorneys, Mexican governmental employees, and non-profit migration justice advocates from Puebla, Mexico.
Juan Carlos recently left his position with the Secretary of Exterior Relations and is now serving as Manager of Migrant Protection and Documentation Services in the Department for Migrant Services for the City of Puebla. Gabriel is an advisor on migration issues to the federal House of Representatives in Mexico City. Both have extensive resumes working for justice for immigrants - not just for mexicanos en el exterior (Mexicans outside of Mexico), but also for the foreign-born who find themselves in Mexican territory (often on a journey from Central America to the United States). Since the inauguration of President Trump, both have seen dramatic shifts in their work to protect Mexicans in the US and in the work of protecting migrants in Mexico.
In July, with support from the St. Louis Coalition on Sanctuary, IFCLA sent Sara John along with Jose Alfredo Chavez from Latinos en Axión to the National Sanctuary Movement Annual Convening. The conference was held at the Austin Theological Seminary on July 28-29, 2019. This space was organized by Rev. Noel Anderson and Myrna Orozco Gallos, of the Sanctuary Movement (see www.sanctuarynotdeportation.org). About 40 participants from across the country attended the conference, which offered four primary objectives: develop a coordinated messaging framework for the Sanctuary Movement; coordinate our work moving forward and have space for strategy conversations; provide training opportunities for those seeking to engage in this work for the first time; and provide space for networking, fellowship and learning from each other.