Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Life After DACA: Armando Orozco

For the past seven years, life has been a struggle for Armando Mata Orozco, who immigrated to the United States when he was just fifteen years old.

 It was hard for Armando to get on his feet without a Social Security number; he could not find a decent job and lived in fear of being arrested for driving without a license. Fortunately, that all changed when he discovered and applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

With assistance from his friend Mauricio, a community member involved in the C-U Immigration Forum,  Armando hired a lawyer to help him obtain a social security number, work permit, and driver's license. Being the first undocumented immigrant in Champaign, Illinois to get his social security number, Armando feels great relief in his daily life. As the seventh of 13 brothers and sisters (seven of which live in Champaign also), Armando desires the same peace for his family. "I wish one day they also have the same luck I had. I wish one day they can also be unafraid to drive to work or to be deported," he writes in an email.

The DACA program allows Armando to go after his dreams. Currently, Armando works as a cook at a local restaurant, but his aspirations are to get a culinary degree and become a professional chef. He also looks forward to taking English classes at Parkland College to improve his writing. 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Application Process For 
Childhood Immigrant Arrivals to the United States. The University Y and 
the CU Immigration Forum currently assist people with DACA application process.

With your support of the Y's work with immigrant communities, more success stories like Armando's will be told.  Please, help us replace the $60,000 grant that the Catholic Church revoked because we refused to break ties with a state-wide coalition that endorsed same-sex marriage equality. You can make inclusive communities happen! Please, donate now.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Press Release: Catholic Church Withdraws Funding for Immigration Work, Bishops Cite Gay Marriage Controversy

Press Release
For Immediate Release
November 7, 2013

For Media Inquires: 
Megan Flowers, Communication Director
office: 217-337-1500

Bishops Cite Gay Marriage Controversy
Catholic Church Withdraws Funding for Immigration Work

(Champaign-Urbana, IL, November 7) For the past three years, the University YMCA has played a prominent role in mobilizing the community around issues affecting immigrants in Champaign County.  But those efforts received a significant setback when the Catholic Church withdrew its financial support because of the controversy surrounding marriage equality. Committed to continuing its work on immigration, the University Y will be seeking support from the community to replace the lost funds.

Why: The University YMCA was one of eleven organizations in Illinois that received support from the Catholic Church to work on immigration and were members of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).  All were told they had to revoke their ICIRR membership before they could receive further funding.  The Catholic Bishops added this condition to the funding when ICIRR endorsed marriage equality in Illinois. 

“We were initially notified by the Church that our funding would be increasing from $37,500 last year to $60,000 this year – a reflection of what we have been able to accomplish and the impact we have in our community,” explained Y Executive Director Mike Doyle. “Unfortunately, this year’s grant had an additional caveat.  Before we could receive funding, we had to revoke our membership in the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).  The news was devastating and threatens to undermine the work we have been doing.”
C-U Immigration Forum volunteers assist young undocumented 
immigrants apply for protection from deportation under the federal DACA
 (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a program 
 that allows them to work without the fear of being deported.
How: At its September Board meeting, the University YMCA Board stood its ground and voted to notify the church that the Y would continue to work with the Coalition.  The Y’s Board also vowed to begin an aggressive community outreach effort to help replace the funds locally. 

“Our Board thought the request was inappropriate from a funder but more importantly counter productive to our efforts to address the problems facing one of the most vulnerable populations in our community,“ commented Doyle. “ICIRR does incredible work and plays a critical role in helping us be more effective advocates in our community - their support is essential to what we do.  We were surprised the Bishops felt compelled to cut off funding for a worthy project just because one of the groups we work with disagrees with the church.  It is unfortunate but we are determined to move forward. This work is too important.”   

On October 9, community members packed Urbana Middle School 
for a C-U Immigration Forum meeting about the new state law
 that allows immigrants to obtain a drivers license and auto insurance.

Additional Information: On October 19, Chicago Tribune published an article, “Who stayed, who left the coalition.” The article lists each group’s reaction and the grant amount.  
More coverage on CCHD funding:

The University Y is a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging people in service, reflection, and action.  We develop cause-driven student leaders, partner with community members and bring them together to get down with issues we care about: working for social justice, protecting our environment, encouraging faith in action, and promoting global engagement.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

[Y Stories] Suhail Barot: "Challenging Ideas, Changing Practices"

In this edition of Y Stories, Y alumni, Suhail Barot discusses how as a student leader he came to know the Y as a place where people come together, challenge ideas as well as practices, and take action.  Even though Suhail now lives in Canada, he is still making a difference in environmental sustainability issues with the University Y.

[Y Stories] is a part of the YMCA's celebration of 140 years of engaging people in service, reflection, and action.  Since 1873, the University YMCA has sponsored programs, organizations, and activities dedicated to building a better world, better human relations, and better care for the Earth.  

Meet more difference makers of the Y: