Fruits of our Labor

Ryan Murphy
June 15, 2011

Ryan Murphy, Columban Volunteer

Often, it is easy to become discouraged in advocacy work. The wide array of complex problems is never ending. Understandably, many people decide to not get involved in politics or debate, because they feel it would be pointless. My 3 months working at the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (CCAO) has shown me otherwise. Advocacy work is similar to a game of chess. Victories can take a long time to develop, strategy and adaptation to the current situation are constantly needed and multiple small wins can change in momentum of the game. In my next two months at CCAO, I will not witness a checkmate on policies of immigration reform, human trafficking or the land dispute in Lomas del Poleo. I am okay with this, because along with my colleagues, I have assisted in defeating a few pawns.

Last week, I was fortunate to attend the “Turning the Tide” national conference. The purpose of the conference was to network local communities that are fighting back against government programs that deputize local law enforcement into immigration officials. In many communities, racial profiling has been instituted, mistreatment of Hispanics (citizens and non-citizens alike) is common practice and many productive members of communities have been deported. Programs meant to target “criminal aliens” are deporting in some places, as many as 50% of people for no criminal activity; thereby tearing apart families and destroying the communities’ relation with law enforcement.

The CCAO has made progress in four areas of focus: immigration, environmental protection, just economic practices and peace and conflict resolution. Recently, CCAO has had some victories. The CCAO has been working with members of the Hispanic Caucus to address the safety of Mexican nationals fleeing the violence due to the drug wars. Currently, a letter drafted by our office will be utilized in a congressional letter to the President. The letter will ask President Obama to do everything in his power to offer asylum to those who qualify and temporary sanctuary in the United states, for individuals who would be endangered in Mexico.

Another victory was a letter sent to President Obama and Secretary Clinton from the Extractive Industry Working Group, which CCAO is a member. In a unified voice, 80 faith based organizations made clear their moral opposition importing environmentally destructive product of tar sand oil.

Governments and politicians are accountable to their citizens. When we make our voice heard, they are forced to respond. Don’t lose hope and continue to fight for whatever issue is closes to your heart.