January 2010 Update from Sister Barbara Pfarr, WISDOM Director, Civil Rights of Immigrants Initiative




Immigration Task Force

National Efforts

MICAH is an active participant with the statewide immigration reform movement sponsored by WISDOM. WISDOM is part of the international Gamaliel Foundation, which has similar projects in 22 states as well as South Africa and Wales. Gamaliel organizations around the U.S. have elected to work together to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and WISDOM is one of the leaders in that effort.

All of the WISDOM issues have a strong moral and ethical dimension. The Gamaliel Foundation religious leaders have created a theological document that explores the teachings regarding immigrants in our many religious traditions. The Gamaliel Foundation is, in turn, a major partner in FIRM (Fair Immigration Reform Movement), a national coalition.

MICAH and WISDOM have reached out to Wisconsin representatives in the U.S. Congress over the years regarding immigration issues. We will do so again when new efforts are made to repair the system. President Obama announced his interest in reforming immigration laws within the first year of his administration.

State Efforts

Through the years MICAH has worked with WISDOM on several issues on the state level, including "In-State Tuition." The "Dream Act" which addresses this issue on a national basis has recently been reintroduced in Congress. This past March, 300 WISDOM/MICAH members came to Madison to support this issue at the Legislature visit day.

After several years of work, In-State tuition for Immigrants has been included in the new State budget. The next push in 2010 will be to urge passage of Driver's certificates for undocumented immigrants.

Local Efforts

MICAH and SOPHIA (Waukesha County) have both worked successfully to keep local law enforcement agencies from becoming de facto enforcement agencies for federal immigration enforcement. The two organizations stopped efforts that would have undermined confidence in local law enforcement, would have excused or even encouraged racial profiling, and would have tied up law enforcement officials in matters for which they have neither training nor funding.

MICAH was successful in sponsoring and cooperating with dozens of congregations in an Immigration Reform rally at St. Adalberts Catholic Church in March, 2009. The theme for this effort was maintaining FAMILY UNITY for immigrants in our efforts to reform the current inept and outdated Immigration laws.

The Fourth Annual "Statewide Immigration and Labor Rights" march was held on May 1, 2009 in conjunction with similar marches in over 200 cities across the U.S. MICAH has a working relationship with Voces de La Frontera who sponsored the march.

We will continue to prepare teams to educate non-immigrants about the realities immigrants live with and the need for reform. We are working also to educate immigrants about their rights to protect themselves and their families. Family unity is the main theme for immigration reform.