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Red, White, and Blue: What Does it Mean to be an American Citizen?

Jun 29, 2012
McKenzie Roese

The fourth of July. It’s a date that resonates with many of us– young, old, male, female, citizens and immigrants.  It’s a time when  families and communities come together, cook burgers on the grill,  and watch the night sky boom with fireworks as people from across the nation commemorate America’s Independence Day. The fourth of July arguably generates the biggest displays of patriotism, pride, and nationalism within the US.  There is something magical about Independence Day; for one day, despite the politics or beliefs that divide us, Americans come together to celebrate the country’s heritage, history, laws, and citizenship.

While, for some, it is a time to kick back and relax, I encourage you to think about what it means to be a citizen of the United States. From personal experience, my American identity and citizenship have not always been the most salient aspect of my life.

World Refugee Day: Celebrating Freedom, Recognizing the Persecuted

Jun 20, 2012
Jeff Chenoweth

World Refugee Day, June 20, has arrived without much fanfare or preparation.  It isn’t holiday; rather, it is a day to recognize the plight of people who are forced from their homes and country due to a fear of persecution or death.  Refugees are like you and me until they are confronted with the terrifying choice to flee and live or stay and be persecuted, or worse, killed. 

The New Testament urges us to welcome the stranger – someone not of our midst who is forced to travel in front of us.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees as they fled Herod’s wrath and went into Egypt. Refugees need welcoming – a safe welcome back home if the authorities will allow it; a generous welcome in their country of exile if the foreign government will not see them as a threat; and in another country, an often unfamiliar and strange country, if again the government will grant them the refugee visa to travel far and enter a new and permanent home. 

Lessons from CLINIC's 2012 Convening in Austin

Jun 11, 2012
H.A. Abella

I am not new to conventions and conferences. I have found myself in the middle of the action for days on end and at venues with more than 60,000 people in attendance. But my first time at CLINIC’s Annual Convening —this year held in Austin, TX— will be a time to remember for two reasons: It surpassed all of my expectations and taught me an important lesson.

From May 23rd through the 25th, Austin’s weather was simply gorgeous. The warm, balmy evening breeze posed an invitation to wind down in the outdoors, walking around downtown or peeking out from bar rooftops, marveling at the blaring sounds and buzz of the ‘live music capital of the world.’ Nearly all our busy schedules, however, were spent indoors along our convening crowd.

Attendees, mostly members of CLINIC’s 200-plus network affiliates, infused me with a  much keener feeling than I have ever experienced. Not a single face carried the bored, weary ‘I’d rather be somewhere else’ look I have

The Virtual Classroom: A Participant's Perspective

May 10, 2012
Sister Rosanne Caiazzo, SC

I am a Sister of Charity of New Jersey and currently work at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina.    I came to North Carolina five years ago to work with Hispanic parishioners at Shallote's St. Brendan’s Church and, after having participated in my first CLINIC webinar one year ago, I am a webinar junkie. 

Our parish offers classes in citizenship and when the pastor asked me to assist students in the application process--I did some research.  I soon learned about the legal nature of immigration forms and the potential serious consequences for the applicant because of faulty advice or poor direction.  With this knowledge, I decided to familiarize myself with immigration law so that I could more competently assist our students.   I learned about BIA accreditation and, thankfully, I was introduced to CLINIC.  

When the first e-learning course was offered in June, 2011, I was eager for the opportunity to delve deeper into a topic, the first being

Is Immigration an Exclusive Federal Responsibility?

Apr 24, 2012
Patrick Sullivan

For the past two years Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070) has been working its way through the courts creating an environment of ambiguity and anxiety for our nation’s immigrants. Tomorrow, the constitutionality of SB 1070 will finally be argued before the Supreme Court. While our nation is in serious need of immigration reform, a decision supporting the bill would manifest into tougher enforcement practices but a ruling striking down the bill would facilitate continued progress for immigration advocates.

Generally, a state cannot pass laws that defy, obstruct, or contradict Congressional aims. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) charges the Executive Branch, through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with enforcing immigration laws and leaves limited opportunities for state cooperation under federal supervision. Some parts of Arizona’s SB 1070 create a scheme that may require state officials to overstep the boundaries outlined in the INA.

The Virtual Classroom: A Trainer's Perspective

Apr 18, 2012
Deborah Smith

In June of 2011, CLINIC introduced its first series of e-learning courses.  Inspired by the needs of CLINIC affiliates and subscribers to minimize the cost of travel to on-site training locations, we developed a menu of on-line immigration courses--including family-based immigration, waivers, and six other immigration topics.

As one of the Training and Legal Support attorneys with CLINIC, I'm happy to be part of  these e-learning classes and have helped design and teach several courses.  The conversion to e-learning was spearheaded by one of our colleagues,  Jennie Guilfoyle.  Jennie galvanized our interest in e-learning, found models of e-learning to guide us, and got the show on the road. 

As my children will attest, my grasp of technology is shaky at best but I have been impressed with how easy it is to use and participate in e-learning.  The e-learning courses consist of different activities, including reading

Lenten Challenge to Love One Another

Apr 2, 2012
Maria Odom

This week, Christians around the world trace and live the last steps of Christ, from the jubilant moment he entered Jerusalem to a crowd of palm waving believers, to the solemn moment of his agonizing death on the cross, to the joyful victory of his resurrection from the dead.  Throughout the prior weeks of Lent, we have prepared for this sacred week which brings the renewal of our faith in Christ through the saving grace of his death and resurrection.  We remember how Christ prepared for his own agonizing death by washing his disciples’ feet and demonstrating that a leader – a teacher – is first a humble servant.  We remember how he celebrated the first holy Eucharist and how, before his captors arrived, Jesus prayed to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane.

During Holy Week we acknowledge that, as many a loving departing soul does,

Lenten Challenge to Authentic Fasting

Mar 26, 2012
Michelle Sardone

As Holy Week approaches, some of us might begin to take stock of what we’ve been doing this Lent.  Prayer: check, charity: check, fasting: check, or maybe not.  Most of us probably hear the word fasting and think of giving up or refraining from food or drink.  I did too, until I recently read Isaiah 58:6 where it says “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly…setting free the oppressed…and not turning your back on your own.”  Sure, I made sure to fast on Ash Wednesday and abstain from meat for all of my Fridays in Lent, but have I really been doing the type of fasting that God calls us to do? 

That’s when I realized how fortunate I was to be part of the CLINIC network of organizations that perform authentic fasting each and every day.  There are those that work immigrants who are detained help them to fight for their freedom.  Then there are refugee resettlement programs that help individuals fleeing oppression. 

Lenten Challenge to Extend Empathy

Mar 16, 2012
Tessa Winkler

How is Lent going for you?  It is my hope that this season of repentance and fasting reaffirms your faith and transforms your spirit.  If you're anything like me, however, you may have accidentally eaten a slice of pepperoni pizza last Friday and your penitential promise to read the Bible has left you few pages past the story of Adam and Eve.  I find it difficult to strike a balance of Lenten observance that both strengthens my discipline in prayer and serves as a doable, realistic commitment to bettering myself. 

To help you on your path, CLINIC has invited readers to join us in "welcoming the stranger" during this Easter season.  Although, like me, you may have encountered bumps along the way, I urge you to look within yourself and challenge the beliefs holding you back from connecting with God and supporting His most oppressed people. 

It's easy to overlook the human element of migration.  Especially in an election year,

Lenten Challenge to Welcome the Stranger

Feb 24, 2012
Kristen Lionetti

Lent is often associated with giving up those things we most enjoy.  But in the past few years, it has become one of my favorite seasons—less for what is lost and more for what is gained.  This is a season of reflection and renewal, an opportunity to refresh those perspectives we hold of self and others in our communities, nation, and world. 

A glance back at the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching reminds me of the importance of recognizing the dignity of each person, the value of solidarity, and the meaning of all people’s full participation in community.  Too often this is not the experience of the immigrant in our midst.  Many experience barriers in accessing medical care or education, do not receive just wages for their labor, or live in fear of family separation.

My few months as an intern here at CLINIC have reaffirmed the notion that this work of striving to honor the dignity of immigrants,