Fighting for the rights of immigrants, or advocating if you prefer, is exactly what more than 160 leaders of Strangers No Longer did with elected officials in the State Capitol on Tuesday, February 28. The group traveled by bus and cars for their Advocacy Day in Lansing. The group of advocates also included 30 Catholic High School students, including a delegation from Detroit Cristo Rey. At least one Senator asked a Cristo Rey student to come back and testify when the bills are formally introduced to the legislature.
Strangers No Longer is a network of Catholics in Michigan working to support immigrants as our brothers and sisters by forming Circles of Support in parishes, high schools – and among immigrant women and men. In addition to members from Southeast Michigan, Strangers No Longer has members organizing in the Catholic dioceses of Saginaw, Gaylord/Traverse City and Grand Rapids.
Rich Faba chairs the Advocacy Task Force for Strangers No Longer. “Advocacy Day in Lansing started last September with Sr. Martha de la Torre holding workshops with the Immigrant Women Circles of Support to collect and develop what ultimately became known as our Platform for Human Dignity,” he said. “The delegates met with 65 legislators on [Advocacy] day… [and] had a large representation of both our Latino and Anglo members.”
Sen. Jeff Irwin introduced the Strangers No Longer group to the entire Michigan Senate, saying Senators “should expect a visit in your office today from Strangers No Longer, encouraging Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants regardless of immigration status.” In the afternoon, Representative Tyrone Carter introduced the high school students on the floor of the House.
A large group of Adrian Dominican Sisters met with Sen. Winnie Brinks, the Democratic leader of the Senate. At the end of the day, the nuns told the other Strangers No Longer delegates, “We’ve gotta keep up the pressure.”
Advocacy Day kicked off with a welcoming program with some Senators and VIPs stopping by the assembly room in the Capitol Building including Sen. Stephanie Chang, Sen. Jeff Irwin, Sen. Mary Cavanagh, and Paul Stankiewicz from the Michigan Catholic Conference.
For more information about how to get involved in the activities of Strangers No Longer or to support their work, visit www.strangersnolonger.org