DREAM Act Expected to Come to a Vote Week of Nov. 29; Students Continue Hunger Strike

Some people are questioning why the students are risking their health with hunger strikes.  Senator Hutchinson has mentioned this several times. She thinks “they should use other methods” to express themselves. The fact is that U.S. students have been working for ten years for passage of the DREAM ACT to no avail.  The Senate has been playing politics with the DREAM ACT, as comprehensive immigration reform has been a political football for several administrations.

In my estimation and that of many there is now no hope that any form of meaningful immigration reform will pass during the next session of Congress, or for many years to come. We have become comfortable with passing all kinds of free trade agreements for goods between nations, but none for the people who produce those goods. As a country we have not shown that we understand the effects of globalization–migration being one of its realities. In Congress today comprehensive immigration reform has become a deflated football that cannot even be kicked around anymore.

Yet, there is a sliver of light that one group of people might be helped–the young who want to obtain their college degrees and become productive citizens of this country, about 200,000 of them in Texas alone.  Think what that brain power can do for Texas. Think what it can do for San Antonio.

It is for that sliver of light that the students are risking themselves.

Throughout my adult life I have met men and women who came to the United States from Cuba under the Peter Pan program. Parents sent their children out of Cuba when they were not able to leave themselves.  They were willing to separate themselves from their children in order to give them a chance in life.  Yes, those were entirely different families in an entirely different situation but, in a way, it is the same situation as the DREAMERS today.  If we cannot save everyone now, let us save the children.

So here are things you can do:

1) Keep up with what the DREAMERS are doing throughout the United States by going to dreamactutsa.blogspot.com
2) Sign the online petition in support of the DREAM Act
3) Email, fax, call and/or write Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Ask her to exert leadership in getting the bill to a vote in the Senate and to vote YES.
4) Write a letter to the editor
5) Educate yourself further about the issue and inform your family and friends about it
6) Join the students at a rally at Sen. Hutchison’s San Antonio office on Monday, Nov. 29, from 4:30 to 5:00pm, or earlier if you’re able at 3133 General Hudnell.

We will be there.

~ María

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Students Appear on Univision’s Al Punto Program on 12th Day of Hunger Strike

On Sunday, Nov. 21, two UTSA hunger-strikers, Claudia Sánchez and Lucinda Martínez, appeared on one of the most widely viewed Sunday news programs in the Spanish-speaking world — Univision’s Al Punto with Jorge Ramos. In a seven-minute segment, Claudia and Lucinda gave clear and inspiring responses to questions about the DREAM Act and why they continue in their hunger strike. Click here to view the interview. And for the latest on the actions of the Dreamers and their companions, go to dreamactutsa.blogspot.com.

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Texas Catholic Sisters Urge Sen. Hutchison To Meet with Hunger Strikers and Support DREAM Act

Catholic Sisters from diverse religious orders and congregations ministering in Texas, primarily in the San Antonio area, today called on Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) to meet with UTSA students who, on Nov. 10, started a hunger strike as a last-resort effort to win passage of the DREAM Act in the lame duck session of Congress. The students have been seeking an opportunity to meet with Sen. Hutchison to have “an open dialogue” about legislation that would provide undocumented students, who were brought to the United States as children, a pathway to legal status. Several of the hunger strikers are undocumented themselves, risking not only physical injury but also deportation.

In a letter addressed to Senator Hutchison, the Sisters called on her to meet with the students to discuss the DREAM Act. “While we decidedly share your concern for the safety and welfare of the students pursuing the hunger strike, we also share their hopes and dreams for a future in the only country they have ever known,” the Sisters wrote. “You are not the first to express concern about their safety or to urge consideration of other methods! But these young people, like other courageous figures in our nation’s history are standing up for something they believe in—making enormous sacrifices to secure a remedy for some 210,000 fellow students in Texas and some 2 million similarly situated students nationwide.”

Nearly thirty Sisters from ten congregations signed the letter, which concluded: “We ask you to meet with these students so that you might engage in an open dialogue, share views on the matter, and come up with a just, workable proposal. We urge you to join the march of history and play a key leadership role in helping to enact DREAM Act legislation in this session of Congress.”

We — Carol Coston, OP and Elise D. García, OP — were among the Sisters urging Sen. Hutchison to act. Signatories are listed below, including additional Sisters who have signed on since the letter was sent to the Senator (now 45 Sisters from 14 congregations).

Sister Sylvia Ahr, OSB, Boerne Benedictine Sisters
Sister Emilia Arredondo, HCG, Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas
Sister Pearl Ceasar, CDP, Sisters of Divine Providence
Sister Alma Leticia Cortés, HCG, Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas
Sister Carol Coston, OP, Dominican Sisters of Adrian
Sister Eleanor Cresap, OP, Dominican Sisters of Houston
Sister Teresa Cruz, M.C-M, Cordi-Marian Sisters
Sister Mary Teresa Cullen, CSB, Sisters of St. Brigid
Sister Paula Enderle, OP, Dominican Sisters of Houston
Sister Dorothy Ettling, CCVI, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word
Sister Lucille Ann Fritsch, CDP, Sisters of Divine Providence
Sister Barbara Fry, CDP, Sisters of Divine Providence
Sister Bernie Galvin, CDP, Sisters of Divine Providence
Sister Elise D. García, OP, Dominican Sisters of Adrian
Sister Felicitas García, HCG, Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas
Sister Imelda González, CDP, Sisters of Divine Providence
Sister Marie M. Griffin, OP, Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa
Sister Esther M. Guerrero, MCDP, Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence
Sister Blanca Hinojosa, HCG, Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas
Sister Neomi Hayes, CCVI, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word
Sister Delia M. Herrera, MCDP, Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence
Sister Matilda Jaime, M.C-M, Cordi-Marian Sisters
Sister Rosalie Karstedt, CDP, Sisters of Divine Providence
Sister Geraldine Kline, OP, Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa
Sister Gabriella Lohan, SHSp, Srs. of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate
Sister Carol Mayes, OP, Prioress, Dominican Sisters of Houston
Sister Susan Mika, OSB, Boerne Benedictine Sisters
Sister Maureen O’Connell, OP, Dominican Sisters of Adrian
Sister Madlyn Pape, CDP, Sisters of Divine Providence
Sister Jocelyn Quijano, PBVM, Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Sisters
Sister Virginia Ramón, HCG, Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas
Sister Bernadine Reyes, OSB, Prioress, Boerne Benedictine Sisters
Sister Cecilia Rodríguez, SSCJ, Sr. Serv. of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sister Ceil Roeger, OP, Dominican Sisters of Houston
Sister Clara Ruíz, HCG, Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas
Sister María Martha Ruíz, HCG, Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas
Sister Carmen Sánchez, MCDP, Superior General, Miss. Catechists of Divine Providence
Sister Laura Sánchez, HCG, Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas
Sister Jane Ann Slater, CDP, Superior General, Sisters of Divine Providence
Sister Lavergne Schwender, OP, Dominican Sisters of Houston
Sister Cindy Stacy, CCVI, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word
Sister Yolanda Tarango, CCVI, Cong. Leader, Srs. of Charity of the Incar. Word
Sister Priscilla Torres, OP, Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa
Sister Margarita Vásquez, HCG, Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas
Sister Grace Walle, FMI, Marianist Sisters

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UTSA Students Meet with Sen. Hutchison’s Staff

Five of the students involved in the hunger strike met this morning with staff at the San Antonio office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The students again asked to meet with the Senator and have an “open dialogue.” Within minutes after the meeting, the Senator’s Washington staff issued a press release about it, stating that “Senator Hutchison has been consistent and clear about her position against the current DREAM Act legislation particularly her concern that the current bill goes far beyond the intended group of children who grew up in the U.S. and attended primary and secondary schools here.”

The statement noted that Sen. Hutchison “appreciates the passion [the students] have but strongly believes that they should pursue safer and more constructive methods of promoting their cause.”

The students said they have been working on this issue for 10 years. “We have tried everything. We have come out to the community with this hunger strike and we ask that Sen. Hutchison also come out to the community, meet with us, and have an open dialogue. Why is it so impossible to have a dialogue?”

The students said they are in this for the long haul. They said there are some 210,000 undocumented students in Texas alone and over 2 million around the country whose futures are at stake.

The students remain encamped at UTSA’s 1604 campus. Donations of water and juice are very much needed; also blankets and sleeping bags, which they promise to return.

Keep calling the Senator. Ask her to meet in person with the students: 210-340-2885 or 202-224-5922.

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Hunger Strikers March Seven Hours for DREAM Act

On the fourth day of their hunger strike in support of the DREAM Act, the students at UTSA yesterday marched about seven hours from their campus at 1604 to the plaza in front of San Fernando Cathedral, in downtown San Antonio, where they held vigil. The students continue to call for a meeting with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and a chance to make their case for this legislation, which is so vital to the future dreams of so many undocumented young people who were brought to this country as children.

Maria Antonietta Berriozabal on UTSA student hunger strike

Dreamers march from UTSA to the Cathedral

Student action captures media attention from Univision

Dreamers hold vigil

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UTSA Students on Hunger Strike for DREAM Act

Yasmina and the other students talk about Day Two of the hunger strike on YouTube

An amazing group of students at the University of Texas at San Antonio are on their second day of a hunger strike in an effort to win passage of the DREAM ACT, which would give young undocumented students, who came to this country as children, a pathway to legal status and citizenship. One of the students, Yasmina Codina, is the younger sister of Xochitl Codina who served on the staff of Santuario Sisterfarm a few years ago.

These courageous young people ask us to join them in calling on Senator Hutchison to meet with them and to vote for the DREAM Act. We stand in solidarity with the students and their effort — and urge you to contact Senator Hutchison today. Listen to the voices of these students. And then please call Senator Hutchison at 210.340.2885 or 202.224.5922.

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Bombings Continue in Baghdad

A photo in the NYT (Nov. 7) shows a giant cross formed by candles with sheets of paper holding the names of those killed in the attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad on Oct. 31

Even as mourners grieve the loss of loved ones in an attack that has been described as the worst on Iraqi Christians since the U.S. invasion in 2003, more bombs were set off this morning outside the homes of Christian families in Baghdad, killing 3 and wounding 25. The sense of anxiety and grief over what are otherwise numbers in numbing news reports is always raised when loved ones are involved.

Yet, isn’t there always a loved one behind every number in news reports?

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A Banner Event!

María takes the stage to begin her readings

Nearly 350 San Antonio area residents packed into the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center last night to hear María Antonietta Berriozábal read excerpts from her forthcoming book, María: Daughter of ImmigrantsThe standing room only crowd in the upstairs auditorium overflowed to the downstairs exhibit area, where nearly 100 people watched on a large screen via projected video and sound.

The selected readings gave a hint of the wide-ranging mix of stories that will comprise María’s autobiography, which is scheduled to be published in the summer of 2011 by Sor Juana Press. From the painful story, “El Tiempo de los Enfermos,” when tuberculosis struck her father’s family in the 1930s, claiming three victims, to the hilarious account of the night she met her future husband, Professor Manuel P. Berriozábal, Ph.D., at an archdiocesan meeting, the excerpts held the audience enthralled.

Enedina Cásarez-Vásquez unveils her artwork for the cover of the book

The cover art for the book, created pro bono by renowned San Antonio artist Enedina Cásarez-Vásquez, was unveiled at the start of the evening. “I wanted to capture all that María has meant, not only to me but to the countless women who know her and who grew because of her,” Enedina said, explaining the symbols she used. “María was a catalyst for what became a river of powerful, hardworking women who because of her became a united workforce on behalf of those in need and all those that needed to be heard and represented.”

Graciela introduces María

Esperanza’s Director, Graciela Sánchez, welcomed everyone and introduced María, highlighting the pivotal role that María has played over years in advocating for the well-being of the community.

Live music by Mariana Ornelas and singer Raquel Cruz, Ph.D., along with food catered by Fuerza Unida added to the festive, celebratory atmosphere. Native grasses from Santuario Sisterfarm, flowers, and flower petals decorated the stage, which held an altar full of photographs of María’s family and ancestors. Behind the scenes, María’s editor, Santuario Sisterfarm Co-Director Elise García, projected images to accompany María’s readings.

Mariana Ornelas plays the harp as guests arrive

Santuario Sisterfarm Co-Director Carol Coston serves the sangría she made for hundreds of happy guests!

Olga Kauffman

Santuario Sisterfarm Board Member Olga Garza Kauffman joins the women of Fuerza Unida in serving a spaghetti salad, among other treats

Raquel Cruz singing

Raquel Cruz sings "Los ojos que tu tienes"

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NYT Notes María’s “Noche de Memorias” on Nov. 6

As Councilwoman, María speaks at State Capitol

The Texas edition of the New York Times posted this notice (pasted below) about tomorrow night’s “Noche de Memorias/Evening of Memories,” cosponsored by Santuario Sisterfarm and the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.

María with her parents Apolinar and Sebastiana Arredondo Rodríguez, and brothers Felix and Louis, growing up on San Antonio's West side.

Telemundo is interviewing María today for a piece about the event and her book, and the San Antonio Express News Conexion has also posted a story.

The evening begins at 6:30pm with a reception catered by the wonderful women of Fuerza Unida.

Also~an exhibit opens tomorrow at the San Antonio Institute of Texan Cultures titled, “Leaving Home, Finding Home: Texan Families Remember the Revolution.” A map of Texas at the start of the installation features eight families, including María’s paternal Rodríguez and maternal Arredondo families. The exhibit runs through June 4, 2011.

New York Times, Nov. 5, 2010
An Immigrant’s Tale

Maria Berriozabal’s memoir, “Maria: Daughter of Immigrants,” tells the story of her unlikely ascent to the near top of San Antonio’s political hierarchy. Elected in 1981, Ms. Berriozabal, 69, was the first Mexican-American woman to win a City Council seat in a major American city.

Her book doesn’t come out until summer, but Ms. Berriozabal is giving a preview reading and performance Saturday to observe a special occasion: the 100th anniversary of the day her paternal grandparents and father crossed the Mexican border into the United States. “I call myself a woman of the borderlands,” Ms. Berriozabal said. “I’ve lived in two places, which are one.”

The book, which honors the contributions of Latinos in the United States, recounts her years of service through the prism of the civil rights movement. The reading will be augmented by videos, photos and music, including a group singalong of Joan Baez’s “No Nos Moveran.”

Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, Nov. 6, 7 p.m. esperanzacenter.org

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Terror Continues in Iraq

This morning I received an email from Sister Aman Miriam, one of our Iraqi Dominican Sisters, who teaches at a high school for girls in Baghdad just 15 minutes away from the Our Lady of Salvation Church that was attacked by terrorists last night.  She wrote:
“It was a nightmare and we still can’t believe that close to 50 people were killed, among them two young priests (late 20s and early 30s).  We did not open the school today to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters. This morning we attended Mass at the Dominican friars, as usual. During the Mass we were just crying, with broken hearts. The Mass was offered for the people who were killed as well as for the terrorists who attacked the church.”

In a phone call today, Aman told me that one of the suicide bombers was just twelve years old. One of the victims, a young woman who had just been married at that church two months ago, was buried today. Aman described how painful it was to witness the grief suffered by the woman’s husband and mother at her loss. Entire families, both parents and children, were killed in the attack. (See this television news report for more.)

Two years ago, when Sister Aman Miriam visited us, we dedicated the “Afreem Garden of Peace” (see stop #6 on the Interactive Tour of our website) in memory of her beloved father. We continue to hold our Sisters and all the people of Iraq in our hearts and join with them in grieving the terrible destruction of life and limb that continues unabated.

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