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.

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