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Immigration and Refugee Support News

Relationship buildings aids passage of American Dream and Promise Act in House

June 5th, 2019

The American Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 6, passed in the House of Representatives on June 4

The bill passed with a 237-187 vote. Only seven republicans supported the bill, including our Omaha-area representative, Don Bacon. OTOC and TPS leaders have continually met with him, attended town halls, and called countless times to build a relationship with him, have him get to know the TPS recipients and Dreamers in his district so that he ultimately supported this bill. Other positive community out reach and pressure is effective in making positive steps in the right direction (see this article about Chamber of Commerce support for Dreamers and TPS). Continue readying to see more about how relationship-building helped influence Don Bacon’s vote and the outcome of this bill

From the Omaha World Herald: “They’re in no man’s land, and we should provide them some security,” Bacon said. “I’ve committed to these guys that I would not forget them.”

Building relationship with  Rep. Don Bacon

 Om May 7, the OTOC Immigration team and the TPS Committee secured a meeting with Rep. Bacon to renew his commitment to support legislation granting permanent status to TPS holders.  Rep. Bacon continued to encourage community education about TPS and reaffirmed his support for TPS. He committed to vote for a “clean” Dream and Promise Act, the only current legislation that would have a path to citizenship for TPS holders. He fulfilled this promise on June 4 by voting FOR H.R. 6!

Bacon also committed to working with OTOC and IPL to appear on local radio programs with a TPS holder to explain to their audience why Nebraska needs our TPS community. Bacon also committed to help TPS holders in Nebraska keep their drivers licenses through January 2019 (currently expires in September 2018)

Click here to read about visits to his DC office earlier this year, and here to see more info about our relationship with Rep. Don Bacon.

Who is My Neighbor- relationship building between groups

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IPL & OTOC Leaders collaborate with the National TPS Alliance of Nebraska at First United Methodist Church-Omaha

April 10th, 2019

IPL & OTOC Leaders collaborated with The National TPS Alliance of Nebraska Saturday April 6th for a bilingual workshop at First United Methodist Church. The event hosted over 75 people who were inspired by live testimonies of real TPS holders. Temporary Protected Status is an immigration status given to those who can not return to their countries of origins due to arm conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics, or any other temporary special conditions.

Both English and Spanish speakers who attended the event learned about the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 which was presented to the House and the Dream Act and Secure Act in the Senate, which would provide long-overdue stability for Nebraska families and communities by offering a pathway to Permanent Residency and eventually Citizenship in the US for both DACA and TPS beneficiaries.

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Celebrating 9 members of the Omaha Community who represented Nebraska at the 2019 TPS Summit in Washington DC

February 11th, 2019

Friday February 8th, Missioning Prayer and Despedida (Send-Off)

This past Friday, over 100 leaders from OTOC and the TPS Alliance of Nebraska gathered to hold a Prayer Service that celebrated both culture and faith for the 9 members of the Omaha community who are representing Nebraska at the TPS Summit in Washington DC from February 10—February 13. The Opening prayer and focus statement were given bilingually by Pastor Juan Carlos Veloso, along with Fr. Chris Saenz, who gave the Blessing to the travelers.

The group traveling to Washington DC was made up of 6 TPS holders, 2 seniors in high school who are the US citizen children of TPS holders, and a Creighton University student. The group flew to Washington DC on Saturday and is currently participating in advocacy, leadership training, and the March for TPS Justice on Tuesday, Feb 12.

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Issue cafes educate about refugees, mental health, and housing

November 16th, 2018

Improving Rental Housing in Omaha

Seventy-five diverse community leaders met on Nov. 27 to learn about and discuss the state of affordable, quality housing. OTOC leaders presented some solutions like a rental property and landlord registration, a housing ombudsman, an inspection pilot project, and , the most effective, a rental property inspection ordinance. The lively group had a good conversation about what these policies would look like and about the larger scope of affordable housing in Omaha. See this article to learn more about OTOCs recent work on housing and an inspection ordinance.

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375 leaders get commitments from Congress & OPPD Candidates on September 18

September 21st, 2018

Photo by Omaha World Herald

The Omaha World Herald reporter opened his story about the evening by observing:

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., and Democrat Kara Eastman faced questions Monday on immigration, health care and a changing climate in front of a standing room-only crowd of more than 350 people.  In fact, nearly 400 people signed into the 2018  OTOC Accountability Session with candidates for US Congress and OPPD at St. Leo Catholic Church.

The packed crowd of OTOC and community leaders sought commitments from OPPD Board members on four topics:

  1. Taking leadership in the community to increase charging stations for electric vehicles by 100 over next 3 years
  2. Directing Staff to be work with community groups and investors who want to establish “community solar projects”
  3. Reducing or reversing the 2015 increase of the basic service charge from $10.25 per month to $30 per month
  4. Supporting the newly proposed SD 7 setting a goal to reduce carbon emissions to a level 20% below 2010 levels by 2030.

Click here to see Completed OPPD Score Card

The Accountability Session with Candidates for US Congress followed and OTOC leaders asked for commitments on the follow topics from Rep. Don Bacon and Candidate Kara Eastman:

  1. Naming their top three priorities for reforming our broken immigration system
  2. Taking a leading role in sponsoring and adopting legislation to grant permanent status to those individuals with Temporary Protected Status(TPS)
  3. Committing to continue the structure and funding for the federal share of Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act
  4. Committing to continue the protections under the ACA for mental health parity and pre-existing conditions.
  5. Naming their top 2 strategies to reverse the effects of climate

Click here to see candidate responses: Completed Report Card for Congressional Candidates

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TPS Bus visits Omaha!

September 10th, 2018

Leaders from across the city welcomed the TPS Journey for Justice Caravan on September 4th and 5th. OTOC and the Institute for Public Leadership, along with Tri-Faith Initiative, the Columban Fathers, and the Schlegal Center for Service and Justice sponsored several events to let the Omaha community know what TPS is and invite them to act with us.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a legal immigration status for people in the US who fled environmental disasters such as hurricanes or civil unrest in their home countries.  Over 300,000 individuals have TPS which has been in place for decades with no serious legal problems.  The Department of Homeland Security has effectively ended TPS for almost all of these tax-paying law-abiding persons, including 1,500 Salvadorans living in Nebraska.  Their status will end in 2019 unless Congress acts.

We invite YOU to take action for the TPS holders in our community and across the country by calling your representatives today! Click here for a script.

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Stand with Immigrants

July 12th, 2018

 

Beyond the Migrant Crisis Headlines Issue Cafe: 

Thursday July 12 at Urban Abbey 90 individuals crammed into Urban Abbey to hear speakers from OLLAS at UNO, Immigrant Legal Center, and Nebraska Appleseed discuss the root causes, laws, and lasting solutions surrounding immigration.  Cristián Doña-Reveco from OLLAS at UNO began the presentation with a detailed analysis of immigration in Central America, and reality behind immigration statistics, including that we should not think of the current situation as a crisis; the more we treat it like a crisis, the more drastic measures get taken. To view his presentation click here. 

This presentation was followed by the speaker from Immigrant Legal Center, Jeremy Roose who summarized the legal side of issues surrounding refugees and immigrants seeking asylum. For a detailed powerpoint, click here. 

Then, Nebraska Appleseed’s Omaid Zabih focused on what Nebraskans can do in their communities surrounding issues of immigration. He also noted the importance of remaining optimistic about the support that immigrants and refugees have in Nebraska and the importance of individuals raising positive awareness for immigrants. This can begin by talking to people about values, problems, solutions, and actions in their communities. Mr. Zabih also reminded everyone to continue calling their elected officials to advocate for immigrants on policy decisions. To view the Appleseed calling script to use with your elected officials about several different immigration issues, click here.

Finally, the presentation concluded with a call to action with OTOC’s Greta Carlson, who spoke about the work OTOC is doing and how people can get involved, see below for action opportunities. To watch the Facebook live video of this issue cafe click here.

 

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OTOC leaders speak up about silence from Nebraska Senators and Representatives

May 18th, 2018

Lirio Funes, 20, holds onto her daughter Melissa Funes, 2, just after being detained by local officials after crossing the U.S. — Mexico border on March 15, 2018 in McAllen, Texas.

OTOC Immigration and Refugee Action Team leaders Kathleen Grant and Jeanne Schuler have published an op-ed in the Omaha World Herald calling on Nebraska’s senators and congressional representatives to take action for mothers and children who are facing poor treatment and separation. To read their article in the Omaha World Herald, click here.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Homeland Security admit that the US is separating children from their parents at the border to deter immigrants.  The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, has acknowledged there were “approximately 700” children separated from adults at the U.S. border since October, 2017.  Further it states that over 100 of these are less than 4 years old!  Mr. Sessions repeated again on Monday (5.7.2018) that this will continue.

The Department of Homeland Security has ended Temporary Protected Status for almost 60,000 Hondurans. They are now forced to relocate to a country whose murder rate is among the highest in the world.

The Trump Administration has repeatedly vilified the Central American women and their children who are fleeing violence to seek asylum in the U.S.  Surely 200 women and children fleeing violence do not pose a threat to a country of almost 300 million. 

Please consider making calls to our Senators and Congressmen in honor of all mothers this Mother’s Day season:

Senator Deb Fischer  202-224-6551 and 402-391-3411

Senator Ben Sasse 202-224-4224 and  402-550-8040

Representative Jeff Fortenberry 202-225-4806 and 402-727-0888 (some parts of Sarpy County)

Representative Don Bacon 202-225-4155 and 402-938-0300 (Douglas and parts of Sarpy Co)

Ask that Senators Fischer and Sasse and Congressman Bacon and Fortenberry call on the Department of Homeland Security to:

  1. Immediately stop separating children from their parents – and reunite children with family members now!
  2. Treat all asylum seekers according to the United Nations Refugee Accord and U.S. law.

Support for TPS Holder and Dreamers

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!”

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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. 

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