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    Dallas Morning News Celebrates Work of DAI Founder Gerald Britt

    [Excerpt]

    Britt and a handful of other church leaders founded Dallas Area Interfaith, with a focus on grass-roots issues such as community policing, educational equity and fair housing policies. The organization also trained and empowered ordinary folks — stay-at-home moms, day laborers and blue-collar workers — to take concerns to government officials.

    When a Dallas City Council member tagged Britt and his fellow pastors as belligerent and militant, he acknowledged, “We’re not your father’s civic group.”

    Britt and his interfaith co-founders secured council funding for housing in South Dallas and after-school programs at elementary campuses. Britt also led a jobs creation and training initiative that he took with him to CitySquare.

    This poverty-fighting champion quietly left his longtime Dallas job. What’s next for Gerald Britt?Dallas Morning News [pdf]

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  • In Face of Public Charge Ruling, DAI Organizes Free Health Fairs

    [Excerpt]

    Across North Texas, nonprofits and community groups had already begun preparing last year for the possible roll-out of the public charge rule. They said they had no choice: Families were removing children who are U.S. citizens from public health programs for which they were legally eligible.

    In Dallas, Josephine Lopez-Paul, the lead organizer of Dallas Area Interfaith, was blunt in her criticism. The group is planning a free health care fair on March 28 in Arlington at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Some immigrants have said they are fearful of going to any location connected to the government. Church complexes are viewed as safe places.

    “We are creating a permanent underclass that doesn't care for one another,” Lopez-Paul said.

    “The damage has already been done, whether the rule went into effect. Just imagine if they don’t have access to health care. … They don’t have access to immunizations.”

    [Photo Credit: Brian Elledge, Dallas Morning News]

    Trump’s New Public Charge Rule May Have Already Scared Thousands of Texas Families Off Public Health InsuranceDallas Morning News [pdf]

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  • 'Train the Trainer' Session in Dallas Prepares Clergy, Lay Leaders to Teach

    2001_-_RTS_-_TtT_Dallas_2.jpgAlmost three dozen clergy, religious and lay leaders from Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and Mississippi convened at Holy Trinity Catholic to learn how to teach key pieces of the Recognizing the Stranger curriculum.  

    Sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), 'Train the Trainer' sessions like these are designed to expand the training capacity of the effort as the strategy reaches into nineteen dioceses across the US. 

    Sessions were led by senior organizers of the Organizers Institute of the South and West IAF and included in-depth discussion of theological reflections on the Eucharist at Corinth and the Beatitudes.

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  • USCCB Highlights DAI-IAF Parish ID Strategy

    Last week, at the General Assembly of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore, the outgoing chair of the Committee on Migration (and Catholic Bishop of Austin), Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, concluded his report with "good practices for helping immigrants."  Topping the list was the IAF parish identification strategy.

    Parish identification emerged as a strategy in Dallas after passage of Texas Senate Bill 4, which allows law enforcement officers to ask residents about their immigration status.  With no access to state drivers licenses, undocumented immigrants were concerned that otherwise benign traffic stops could result in deportation.  Police departments were worried their officers would not be trusted in immigrant communities.  As a way to address both concerns, 1,500 Dallas Area Interfaith leaders and their Bishops negotiated acceptance of parish ID cards with five North Texas police departments. 

    The parish ID strategy soon spread to Baltimore in collaboration with IAF sister affiliate Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) and, most recently, to the Diocese of Brownsville (along the US-Mexico border) in partnership with Valley Interfaith, Catholic Charities and the police departments of Brownsville, McAllen and Edinburg.

    Bishop Vasquez recognized the Catholic (Arch)dioceses of Baltimore, Dallas and Brownsville for "fostering a sense of belonging & security."  So far in Dallas, 12,000 identification cards have been issued through DAI member congregations, fortifying family connections to congregations and strengthening parish collections in the process.

    Remarks by Bishop Jose S. VásquezUS Conference of Catholic Bishops General Assembly Remarks

    How Parish IDs Can Help Foster Communities of WelcomeJustice for Immigrants [Notes]

    How Parish IDs Can Help Foster Communities of WelcomeJustice for Immigrants [Webinar]

    Catholic Diocese of Brownsville and Valley Interfaith Team Up to Offer Parish ID

    Parish IDs Bring Relief to Immigrant Communities in North Texas 

    Additional news on Parish IDs

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  • After Massacre in El Paso, Dallas Area Interfaith Congregations Call for Gun Safety

    [Excerpt]

    On a rainy Friday night, the Dallas church hall meeting was filled with talk of the latest tiroteos y balaceras — gunfire and gun battles.

    Erika Gonzalez said she can now distinguish between the metallic sounds and rhythm of a high-caliber assault weapon vs. a pistol. “They discharge and they refill,” she said at St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in southeast Dallas.

    “We need more help for this combat,” said Lily Rodriguez, a U.S. citizen who helped organize the meeting. “Raise your voice. It will give us credibility.”

    They’re part of a new gun-control campaign that is spreading in Mexican-American and Mexican immigrant neighborhoods in Dallas and elsewhere in Texas. Already, 11,000 Texans have signed postcards asking for support for four federal bills, including two on enhanced background checks for firearms purchases, organizers say.

    The campaign started after the mass shooting Aug. 3 at an El Paso Walmart, in which a Dallas-area man traveled to the border city with an assault rifle to hunt Mexicans, according to a court affidavit. By the end of the shooting spree, 22 people were dead. It is believed to be the worst violence against Latinos in a century — since widespread lynchings across the West aimed at those of Mexican ancestry....

    [Photo Credit: Dianne Solis, Dallas Morning News]

    After El Paso Massacre, Dallas Area Interfaith Calls for Tougher Gun LawsDallas Morning News [pdf]

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