Recognizing the Stranger

In 2019, in collaboration with the Catholic Diocese of Austin, Catholic Charities of Central Texas, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and the West / Southwest IAF Organizers Institute, Central Texas Interfaith (then known as Austin Interfaith) launched "Recognizing the Stranger," an innovative strategy for immigration reform rooted in Spanish-speaking congregations in order to strengthen, unify and revitalize parishes through leadership development.  

This year, the strategy is expanding into 19 dioceses across the west and southwest US.  Says Senior IAF Organizer (and Central Texas Interfaith Supervisor Joe Rubio, "The Recognizing the Stranger strategy works with local parishes to identify, train, and mentor immigrant leaders to build connections among themselves and with nonimmigrant allies in their parishes and the broader community.  It’s a collaborative effort among clergy, leaders, and organizers to develop capacity to tackle tough issues."

According to CCHD Director Ralph McCloud, "Recognizing the Stranger is particularly successful because it captures the connections between what happens at Mass on Sunday morning, how families live their lives throughout the week, and how parishioners interact with members of the broader community. I have been impressed that participants seek true change.  In the process, parishes are strengthened, unified, and revitalized."

'Recognizing the Stranger' Austin was launched with the support and participation of Bishop Joe Vasquez.

Recognizing the Stranger, National Strategic Grant, CCHD Newsletter

'Recognizing the Stranger' Training (March 2019)

Follow Up Training (May 2019)

Next meeting: August 10th, 2019

Bastrop Interfaith Speaks Out Against Deportations Stemming from Traffic Operation

[Statement excerpt below:] 

"....on June 23, five deputies from the Sheriff's office appeared to be stationed at or near the Stoney Point community. People were stopped for speeding and DUI, which is appropriate. But they were also stopped for allegedly failing to use turn indicators, once for allegedly failing to use turn indicators within 500 feet of the intersection; for a broken or burnt out tail light; and for having mud on their license plate. These were very minor traffic infractions. To many, this appeared to be a targeted effort to locate and detain undocumented people. As previously reported, 23 Hispanics were arrested of which 13 were taken and moved into deportation proceedings. 

By this action, which appears to have been against immigrants, the Sheriff has not increased people's confidence in law enforcement, which is what we had sought and strived to obtain in our prior dialogue with the Sheriff. This causes us serious concern and raises question of credibility in that dialogue...." 

[Photo Credit: Ralph Barrera, Austin American Statesman] 

Full Statement Here 

'Zero Tolerance' Arrests Put 13 in ICE Custody, 'Had Nothing to Do With Immigration', Texas Sheriff Says, Miami Herald 

El Aguacil del Condado Bastrop Rompe el Silencio Sobre el Operativo de Tránsito Donde Fueron Detenidos Varios Inmigrantes Indocumentados, Univision Austin

Faith Group Blasts Sheriff for Traffic Crackdown, Deportations, Austin American Statesman [pdf]

Bastrop Sheriff: Traffic Stop Had 'Nothing to Do with Immigration', Austin American Statesman 

Residents Concerned After Traffic Arrests Lead to ICE Detentions, Spectrum News 

Del Valle Neighborhood On Edge After Drivers Caught in Traffic Sting Are Turned Over to ICE, KUT 90.5 

Líderes Religiosos de Bastrop Cuestionan Detenciones de Inmigrantes en Operativo de Tránsito, Univision 

Bastrop Interfaith Leader Speaks Out Against Deportations Stemming from Traffic Operation, KVUE 

Bastrop Interfaith Exige Un Fin a la Política de Cero Tolerancia en su Condado, Telemundo 

Bastrop County Sheriff Defends Traffic Enforcement Sting, KXAN

Compassionate Immigration Reform

10-6_Poster.jpgIn recognition of religious, economic and democratic imperatives in support of compassionate immigration reform, Central Texas Bishops and religious leaders launched a campaign for compassionate immigration reform with a prayer service and news conference on June 18, 2013.  
Since then, the Bishops met with Congressmen Lamar Smith, Blake Farenthold, Roger Williams and Lloyd Doggett.

October 6, 2013

Chamber Leaders Join Central Texas Clergy in Immigration Education Effort


For the first time in Central Texas, leaders from two Chambers of Commerce joined clergy from Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith traditions for an afternoon of education about economic, business and legal perspectives on immigration reform.  This second event in a campaign organized by clergy leadership, drew 220 participants — about twice as many as the first one.  Testimonies from workers, divided families and DACA leaders highlighted the human cost; presentations by business leaders and legal experts outlined the economic and business costs of a lack of reform.  All urged participants to meet with their legislative representatives and to demonstrate a constituency of voters that support compassionate reform. 

Austin Interfaith Hosts Immigration Reform EventAustin American Statesman

June 17, 2013

Central Texas Bishops & Religious Leaders Call for Immigration Reform


In a prayer service and press conference organized by Central Texas Interfaith (then known as Austin Interfaith), Central Texas Bishops and clergy from six religious denominations “pressed Tuesday for reforms centered on keeping families together and allowing unauthorized immigrants to earn legal residency with a path to citizenship….[stating] such principles are key to what they called just and humane immigration reforms.”

Central Texas Religious Leaders: Immigration Change Must be Just, Humane,Austin American Statesman [Printable version]

Lideres de Diversas Iglesias Alzan sus Plegarias por la Reforma MigratoriaUnivision 62