Indy CAN E-newsletter, December 2015 issue

In this issue

Working together works for families!

"My dad will be coming home to his family soon! I am more than thankful for all those who supported us and kept my dad and family in their prayers over the last several weeks."

This cry of hope fulfilled came from Jesus Hernandez, Jr., as news came Dec. 3 that his father would be released from deportation proceedings that unfairly targeted Jesus Sr.

Hundreds of IndyCAN's faith leaders and immigration advocates came together in support of keeping this local family together, and our work resulted in the best possible result: Jesus Hernandez Sr. is coming home.

Jesus - a beloved father, devout Catholic, and active community member for 19 years - was detained and placed into deportation proceedings this fall after a car accident. His potential deportation was not due to the accident; it was simply because he was an undocumented immigrant.

IndyCAN community leaders and Jesus' fellow parishioners from St. Monica Catholic Church poured calls into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Office Director Ricardo Wong's office in Chicago early this month, as IndyCAN's social media efforts and traditional media coverage brought public attention to the case.

"People make mistakes," says Kathy Coenhour, IndyCAN leader at St. Monica. "But no one should fear never seeing their family again."

That was the potential fall-out if deportation proceedings would have been completed.

The fire behind our cries for justice and fair treatment of hard-working immigrant families was stoked by the fact that Jesus Hernandez would have been returned to his family immediately following processing at the jail.  But because Indianapolis Jails permit unconstitutional ICE holds — regardles of crimes — Jesus was moved into deportation proceedings without so much as proper notification of his family members.

Serving to criminalize hard-working, churchgoing families like the Hernandez's, ICE holds are common practice in Indy Jails — despite multiple federal court rulings that ICE detainers violate the 4th amendment and due process rights. This practice of routine separation of families is even more egregious when you consider some 43,000 Hoosiers are in limbo - likely to get relief once the President's deferred action plan is heard by the Supreme Court in 2016. IndyCAN leaders are committed to ensuring Indianapolis sends a clear message: We welcome immigrants and join more than 250 jurisdictions to put families first and stop honoring ICE detainer requests because of constitutional, public safety and economic concerns. 

Read more about the deferred action plan in the story that follows, below.

IndyCAN is proud of each member of our collective community — those who called ICE demanding fair treatment, those who came together at the prayer vigil in early December, and those who kept the family in your thoughts and prayers — and hopes that all of us will enter the new year feeling encouraged by this awesome example of how working together works for keeping families together!

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Small victory today could mean big win for immigrant families tomorrow

Jesus Hernandez is one of more than 4 million immigrant parents in America who wouldn't have to fear deportation under President Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) executive action.

Thanks to a Supreme Court decision on Dec. 1, these families are increasingly likely to benefit from the act, which had been blocked by 26 states — including Indiana — that filed a lawsuit challenging the program.

The action was one of a series that was intended, in part, to "prioritize deporting felons, not families." DAPA would have allowed "parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years ... provided they have lived in the United States continuously since Jan. 1, 2010, and pass required background checks."

The actions were announced in November 2014 but, before they could be implemented, Texas and 25 other states, including Indiana (via Governor Mike Pence), sued the Obama Administration, attempting to block DAPA and the related expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs. A federal judge halted the programs in February 2015.

The future of the programs was in limbo, since the current Supreme Court term ends in June 2016, several months before the presidential election. Texas, the lead plaintiff in the 26-state lawsuit, was accused of trying to run out the clock, halting the effort long enough to miss its opportunity to be heard by the court.

The Supreme Court, however, agreed to hear the case in early 2016 and, if timing goes as expected, will likely decide the fate of DAPA and DACA by the end of June.

"Our families believe that God's righteous justice will prevail," says Julio Reyes, IndyCAN leader at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, an IndyCAN congregation. "We are prayerful that God will grant wisdom to the Supreme Court and the Obama Administration, allowing them to extend His grace to our hard-working, law-abiding immigrant families."

Read more: Supreme Court Hands Obama Small But Important Win In Immigration Fight, Huffington Post

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IndyCAN stands against hate

In recent weeks, we have seen a rise in fearful and even hate-filled rhetoric against Muslims in the United States.

Several state governors, including Indiana Governor Mike Pence, have called for a suspension of the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

A prominent presidential candidate proposes preventing any Muslim from entering the United States and even the establishment of a national Muslim registry.

IndyCAN clergy spoke out in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers by issuing an open letter that encourages all clergy — and all Hoosiers — to reject all words and actions that would discriminate based on religion, race or class. Add your name to the list of Hoosiers who support our Muslim brothers and sisters by clicking here.

"We must rise above the fear that distorts our vision and causes us to see groups of people who are different from us as the enemy," says Alex Slabosky, IndyCAN leader from Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. "We embrace our Muslim neighbors as allies in building a city where every person is valued. We believe that all people are created in the image of God, and we commit ourselves to promoting better understanding among the people of Indianapolis, as we continue our work to pursue a just society."

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Welcome, Nicole!

IndyCAN has welcomed a new operations manager to our staff. Look for Nicole Barnes at IndyCAN events and in the office, and extend a friendly welcome!

Nicole has 10 years of experience in not-for-profit organizations, with six of those years being in management. She has been an advocate for the underprivileged and underserved populations of Indianapolis, particularly foster youth. She has also worked closely with Indianapolis Public Schools and Wayne Township Schools, serving youth and families.

Nicole is not new to IndyCAN. During the Let My People Vote campaign in 2014, she was one of two data leads for her congregation, Eastern Star Church. The church orgnaized phone bank teams and rasied voter awareness for thousands of congregants and community members.

Nicole says she is excited about working with IndyCAN, because it aligns with her personal passions of identifying and creating leaders, and it's focused on faith.

"My faith is very important, and I'm excited to work somewhere that allows me to display that while helping our communities," she says. "I believe I am called to do this work. I have always had a heart for my community. I grew up on the south side of Indy, as a product of a single-parent home. Throughout my life, I have faced some challenges. But through His grace and mercy, I have survived. Therefore, I owe it to my community and others to reach back and help them survive."

Welcome, Nicole!

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Please help us spread the word: IndyCAN is hiring

IndyCAN is still looking for a bilingual community organizer to join the team.

Bilingual Spanish/English required

The community organizer engages people of faith and congregations to deepen their prophetic ministries. He or she will oversee Indiana's multi-faith movement to uphold the dignity of families and end criminalization of immigrants and people of color. A great candidate will have a true desire to reform local, state and national policies for the betterment of all people.

The ideal candidate is highly experienced, energized, self-motivated and dedicated to promoting racial, economic and social equity. He or she should have a track record of building bridges across cultures, especially among immigrants, African Americans and the working poor.

A successful organizer will have:

  • A passion for changing people's lives and communities
  • Respect and belief in all people
  • Anger at injustice
  • An understanding of power
  • A comfort with faith
  • Self-awareness of one's own barriers

Read more about what it takes to be a successful community organizer.

Read the complete job description and apply online.

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Updates and upcoming events

Jobs Not Jails

Indianapolis Mayor-elect Joe Hogsett responded to IndyCAN's request to meet before the end of the year; a delegation is working to finalize a date to discuss how we can work together to cut incarceration and violence in half, and open up jobs for families.   We will continue to report progress in this e-newsletter. Stay tuned in 2016!

Weigh-in on IndyCAN's strategy for 2016: Continue the conversation in your congregations

Our story continues! We encourage all IndyCAN clergy to begin discussions within your congregations based on the following question:

If we are able to deepen our work and deliver real change on mass incarceration and transit, what would that mean to our families?

Plan to share what you learn from these conversations at our annual meeting Jan. 21 and Leadership Assembly in February.

Plan to attend the IndyCAN Annual Meeting

All IndyCAN members are invited to attend the annual meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, 550 N. Rural St. Clergy, Strategy Team members and board members are expected to be present for the event, as we will be making important decisions about priorities for the coming year based upon our recent organizational assessment.

Register now!

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