Democracy is not a
spectator sport


OTOC Leaders call for congressional support of Salvadoran TPS Residents

January 9th, 2018

On Monday January 8th, Homeland Security announced that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans will end on September 9th, 2019.  Over 200,000 Salvadorans and their families are now at risk, so it is now up to Congress to find a legislative solution. OTOC calls on Congressmen Bacon and Fortenberry, Senators FisJeanne in basementcher and Senator Sasse to get involved and craft a solution which provides permanent residency for law abiding, productive residents who have lived among us  for many years with only Temporary Protective Status.

OTOC leader Jeanne Schuler says, “OTOC calls on our members of Congress to  show leadership.  Find a solution.  Support the bills that have already been introduced or develop new ones.  We need leaders who will serve the people of Nebraska and act.  Now.” 

OTOC leader Kathleen Grant says, “TPS recipients have lived in Nebraska for almost 20 years. They own homes and businesses.  They work in factories, farms and meat packing plants.  Their children, most of whom are US citizens, will move our state’s economy forward. They are neighbors.  They are at risk.” To see Kathleen Grant in the news speaking about this issue, follow this link to Channel 7’s coverage of Monday’s decision in Omaha



Jeane Schuler calls on assembly goers to “Call every day!”

OTOC is calling on Congress to provide permanent residency  to law-abiding, long-term residents who have had Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Since 2001, these residents have had to pay to renew their status and undergo extensive security checks. 

Please call your congressional representatives today and urge them to find solutions for Salvadorans in Nebraska.nat rep contacts



OTOC in the News after Monday’s Announcement:

Channel 7’s coverage of Monday’s decision in Omaha

Lincoln Journal Star’s coverage of TPS recipients in Nebraska and OTOC’s work with themnews vigil

Omaha World Herald’s coverage of Monday’s decision in Omaha


OTOC’s continued work on TPS and Dreamer awareness

On Monday, December 18th at St. John’s Catholic Church, 120 OTOC Leaders, Community Members, and TPS Recipients gathered for a traditional Latin American Advent ritual- the Posada, a portrayal of the journey Mary and Joseph took to finding the manger and being turned away at the inns. This journey mirrors the journey of immigrants to their homes as documented people here in the United States. The bilingual and Interfaith Posada and Prayer Vigil was hosted by OTOC, the Nebraska Dreamers group, and Alianza del TPS Nebraska. Participants sang the traditional songs imamwhere Mary and Joseph ask for lodging and are eventually allowed to stay in the stable where Jesus was born. Stories from Dreamers and TPS recipients were heard, and prayers were lead by Fr. Lorn Snow of St. John’s at  Creighton, Dr. Maryanne Stevens, RSM of the College of St. Mary and Imam Jamal Daodi of the American Muslim Institute. The assembly was then invited to the basement for the celebration and cal to action. Pan dulce (sweet bread) and champurado (traditional Salvadoran chocolate drink) were served while the crowd wrote post cards, were urged to call their senators, and heard from more Dreamers and TPS recipients, and then a pinata was broken by the many children in attendance. This event was another opportunity to stand in solidarity with immigrants in Omaha and learn more about how to support them.

Several area reporters attended the event, including Chanel 3’s Maya Saenz. Please click here to see her story on Chanel 3 News Now

Imam Daoudi and Dreamer Amor lead the closing prayer in English and Spanish

OTOC 2017 Delegates Congress

November 28th, 2017

An enthusiastic room of 215 people from thirty five member congregations, solidarity members and guest congregations filled the Parish Hall at St. Pius X Catholic Church on November 13th for OTOC’s 2017 Fall Delegates Congress. They arrived eager to learn how OTOC can become a stronger organization with a more powerful voice for the common good, through expanded membership, financial support and diversity.

Marshall Johnson presenting about what organizing is

Marshall Johnson presenting about what organizing is

Following a lively roll call and focus statement, Rev. Marshall Johnson engaged the room using props to recall the Joshua story and getting everyone to join in singing the familiar Jericho tune. He went on to remind everyone that since biblical times, people seeking justice have had to confront “giants,” just as we do today, and that takes power.crowd 1

Speakers’ stories told of how OTOC has successfully brought people together to achieve common goals for over 20 years—from organizing meat packers and improving the legal process for immigrants to getting the city to devote more money to demolition of condemned houses.  In the stories we heard that frequently people involved in one issue lend support to additional action groups because we know that together we are stronger and our relationships form a bond.

Looking forward, leaders offered ideas to expand the organization as a whole and within individual congregations. They included having more one-on-one meetings, developing core teams, reaching out to additional institutions and others. Cheri Cody and Pat Bass shared specific plans already in place at Second Unitarian and St. Benedict the Moor.  The room welcomed OTOC’s newest member, San Andres Lutheran Church, and its pastor, Rev. Sergio Amaya, who presented the church’s first commitment payment.

Pat Bass Presenting about next steps

The evening culminated with an inspirational final blessing, led by more than 30 clergy and religious womenhigh energy agenda covered a lot of ideas in a stimulating way. It left people so engaged that when it ended early, they stuck around to discuss their congregations’ commitment to build OTOC. Each promised to report back at the February Steering Committee meeting.

Don’t forget that the work isn’t over- meet with your congregation’s core team, fill out your commitment card, and let’s keep the momentum of this event carry us through the growth of people for power.


Written by Susan Kuhlman, Holy Name Catholic Church

Immigration, Mental Health, and Predatory Lending Advocacy at City Council

November 22nd, 2017

In the past two months, OTOC Action teams have been present in city council meetings to testify on different issues.

OTOC adds support to City Council Resolution to tell Congress to act swiftly for DACA Dreamers

On October 17th, Jean Reiner of St. Stephens and the Immigration and Refugee Action Team testified about a Resolution for Omaha City Council to urge Congress to act swiftly on behalf of Dreamers and create a plan to protect DACA recipients. The Council voted in favor of the resolution after OTOC and many other individuals and organizations testified in favor of the resolution and City Council’s support of people in Omaha with DACA status. City Council passed the Resolution with five in support, two passing.

Jim Morely at City Council

Jim Morley testifying at he City Council meeting

OTOC and Allies get unanimous City Council support on Pay Day Lending and Mental Health

Omaha City Council  voted 7-0 on Tuesday Nov 21 to support LB 194 or similar legislation to better regulate Pay Day Lending. CM Pete Festersen introduced the resolution for the City to include this support in their  Priority for the 2018 Unicameral Session.  Jim Morely of Urban Abbey and the OTOC Predatory Lending Team testified that OTOC has ahad several house meetings in the last month and an Issue Cafe at Urban Abbey last Friday, all about Pay Day Lending. He said that over 90 people have attended these sessions and most were amazed that lenders are permitted under Nebraska law to charge so much in fees and interest and to trap borrowers in a cycle of debt. 

Jim was joined by leaders of several of our allies in this effort including Amanda Brewer, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, Nebraska Appleseed Attorney Ken Smith and Julia Tse of Voices for Children. The lively hearing involved lots of questions from City Council members, all of whom pledged at OTOC’s May 1 Accountability Session that they would work with OTOC to seek reform of Pay Day Lending in Nebraska. Their unanimous action today means that they have taken the first step in keeping their pledge to OTOC.

Click here to see KETV’s Coverage of the Council’s support for LB 194

Sarita Penka testifying at the City Council Meeting

Sarita Penka testifying at the City Council Meeting

Sarita Penka of St. Leo Catholic and the Mental Health Action Team testified in favor of two resolutions related to making Mental Health Care more accessible. The first resolution indicated City Council supports legislation that would allow mental health care professionals to initiate Emergency Protective Custody proceedings, and not just law enforcement officials as is now the case in Nebraska. Sarita told a moving family story to which CM Brinker Harding asked follow up questions and Sarita responded with authority and wisdom. 

Sarita then testified in favor of a resolution seeking a change in state law to  allow patients in Emergency Protective Custody to be transported to other states if no beds are available in state. Sarita cited the example of the wisdom of allowing patients from Omaha to be taken across the river to Council Bluffs if there a mental health beds free there at a time when none are free in Omaha.

Both of the Mental Health resolutions also passed City Council and will be included in the City’s Legislative Priority List for 2018. Click here to see the Omaha World Heralds story about City Council’s Legislative Package


OTOC is growing relationships, awareness and solidarity with Salvadorans with Temoprary Protected Status

November 4th, 2017

OTOC leaders have been working with Omaha’s Salvadoran people who are recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), an immigration status given in 2001 because of the major earthquake in El Salvador. These families have been living and working in Omaha since then, renewing their TPS status every eighteen months. Now their immigration status is threatened as the White House Administration threatens to cut their protection along with many other countries that have TPS in the US. To learn more please click    HERE.

Media Coverage of Temporary Protected Status:

On November 9, Nebraska Lutheran Bishop Brian Maas, Catholic Archdiocese Chancellor Rev. Tim McNeill, and College of St. Mary President Maryanne Stevens, joined OTOC in an OWH Guest Column asking for an 18-month extension of Temporary Protective Status (TPS).

To see the article, click here: OWH Opinion Guest Column

OWH article pic

On November 4, OWH feature writer Erin Grace wrote a  front-page story about Wilfredo Rivera, a 20-year resident of Omaha who is a supervisor in a meat packing plant, homeowner, church member and father of U.S. citizen children. Erin met Wilfredo though OTOC and invited the public to hear Wilfredo and others at a November 6 OTOC/IPL Issue Café at Urban Abbey.

To see the article click here: OWH Grace Article



Wilfredo with his daughter- cover photo of newspaper article

Local Actions:

UA speaker

Mario, the head of the Salvadoran TPS Society in Omaha

On November 6, ninety-five concerned community members came to an OTOC/IPL Issue Café at Urban Abbey to hear from Creighton Law Professor Dave Weber and 4 long-time Omaha residents with TPS. OTOC leaders challenged those present to educate their congregations and members of Congress about extending TPS so that Salvadorans, Hondurans, Haitians and others who have lived productive lives in the US for many years will not be forced back to homelands where they would be in extreme danger. 

On October 14 OTOC, IPL, San Andres Lutheran and TPS Association of Nebraska shared a papusa and tamale dinner so where   TPS families shared their stories with 70 OTOC and community leaders. The benefit raised funds to help San Andres join OTOC and for 13 Omaha residents with TPS  to travel to Washington D.C to talk to their members of Congress about extending TPS



OTOC Leaders meeting TPS families over shared meal




Get Involved:

We need your help to protect these members of our community. 

Please call our Congressional representatives about our neighbors who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS).  We have been told that our senators and representatives actually count the number of calls they receive about specific issues and are more likely to respond to issues for which they have received many calls.

Senator Deb Fischer  202-224-6551

Senator Ben Sasse 202-224-4224

Representative Don Bacon  202-225-4155  (most of Omaha area)

Representative Jeff Fortenberry 202-225-4806  (some parts of Sarpy County)


Sample Script you can use:

“Hi my name is ________, and I live at ______________ in ___________.  I’m calling about our fellow Nebraskans who have Temporary Protected Status and are now at risk for deportation. 

There are over 440,000 persons with TPS in the US.  They were granted TPS as a result of armed conflict or natural disasters.  Many of them have lived in the US for years because they can’t safely return to their countries of origin.  They work and own homes in the US.  Their children and grandchildren are US citizens.  

Over 400,000 of them are from two of the most dangerous countries in the world – El Salvador and Honduras— or Haiti where almost 60,000 people remain in makeshift camps after the 2010 earthquake. 

I am asking that you

  • Become informed about Temporary Protected Status
  • Consider the risks to these families of returning to unstable and dangerous countries
  • Affirm the importance that we as US citizens place on family unity. Thank you”

You can also write a letter to the editor to create more positive press in Omaha

Please consider writing a letter to the editor for the Public Pulse section of the Omaha World Herald. This will help spread the word and show that people are concerned if many people are writing in.

The parts of a letter (should be under 200 words):

– Start with why it matters to you- personal connection that gives you credibility. Can be your own story of immigration, someone you know, or Wilfredo’s story

-Then use a shared belief or value that most people would agree with- family, American Dream, upward mobility, community, equality, etc.

– Share a fact or story that shows that the value is not being upheld.

            -Build off of another story or event that you read or attended:

– “Grace: In Omaha nearly 20 years, El Salvador native with protected status faces uncertain future.” Omaha World Herald. Nov. 4, 2017

-“Brian Maas, Maryanne Stevens and Timothy F. McNeil: Don’t end protected status” Omaha World Herald. Nov. 9, 2017

-OTOC Issues Café at Urban Abbey with Wilfredo Rivera on November 6 

-OTOC TPS Factsheet (HERE)

Submit letters to: OWH Public Pulse

You will need to give your name, phone number, and address (number and address are not posted with the letter).

You could also send this same letter to your Members of Congress. Just do a search for their website and look for their comment form under “Contact”

OTOC officially endorses the Carbon Fee and Dividend plan in response to climate change

September 14th, 2017


OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Action Team (ESAT) is committed to educating and promoting solutions to climate change. At the September 11, 2017 OTOC Steering Committee Meeting, ESAT presented the Citizens’ Climate Lobby plan for reducing CO2 emissions. It is a plan for federal legislation termed Carbon Fee and Dividend.  The Steering Committee came to a consensus to endorse the plan as a way to reduce CO2 emissions and their harmful effect on the climate.

As a method of transitioning consumers away from carbon fossil fuels and toward sustainable energy sources, the Carbon Fee and Dividend plan puts a fee on fossil fuels at their source, i.e., mine, well or port. The fees will then be passed on to the consumers of products that fossil fuels affect.  The collected fees will be divided equally and a monthly dividend will be sent to each household in the country. Thus, households that have spent less on fossil fuel products will receive the same dividend as those households that have spent more on these fossil fuels.  Household members may spend the dividend in any manner. This is a market based approach to move our economy away from a reliance on carbon based fossil fuels and towards renewable and cleaner energies.

ESAT wants to help educate our community and has training materials prepared, so if your church or institution would like to learn more about the Carbon Fee and Dividend Plan, contact Mary Ruth Stegman at

Also visit the Citizens Climate Lobby website to learn more about their campaign.

carbonfeeanddividend edit

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