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Immigrant Rights

Prayer Services


Isaiah 58
Prayer and Fast for Immigrant Rights
Stand with our Brothers and Sisters in Arizona
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. - Isaiah 58: 6-7


ESTHER, Faith Communities to Hold Prayer Vigils for Immigrant
Brothers and Sisters in Arizona, Wisconsin and Across the Country


Tuesday, July 13th     Saturday, July 17th (Culminating Service)
6:00 PM     6:00 PM
Emmanuel United Methodist Church     Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish
(Spanish interpretation available)    (Spanish interpretation available)


Inspired by Isaiah 58, which teaches us that a “true fast” is undertaken in service of “loosening the chains of injustice. 
Take time to pray and fast for 30 minutes during the week of July 11-17. This movement is part of a national effort that includes 8 weeks of prayer rolling from one group of states to the next to engage people of faith in the assigned states in constant prayer and public prayer events and advocacy for immigration reform. 
The recent anti-immigration law in Arizona has galvanized faith communities across the nation to take a stand with immigrants against the divisiveness and injustice that have characterized the U.S. immigration debate. Wisconsin’s vigil week is from July 11 through July 17.
ESTHER is participating in this event in conjunction with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.
Two prayer services will be held to stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters and to pray for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. In addition, individuals will commit themselves to 30 minutes of prayer or meditation and fasting throughout the week.
For more information, contact Ana Wilson at (920) 209-0498.

Faith and Immigration - Sunday, May 23rd 6:30 PM

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(click to download flyer)


Faith On the Move

A Conversation on Faith and Immigration

with Pastor David Vasquez

Sunday, May 23rd at 6:30 PM

First Congregational UCC, Appleton

724 East South River Street


Join Pastor David Vasquez and leaders of ESTHER in an informative presentation outlining the need for faith communities to share the message of compassion and justice while moving toward needed immigration reform.

Pastor David Vásquez from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa served as part of the Postville Relief Effort core team, working in areas of coordination, advocacy and legal support after the devastating Postville Raid in 2008.

Faith and Immigration

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Faith communities support comprehensive immigration reform to; keep families united, support those that are oppressed, advocate for human dignity, and promote safe and smart border enforcement.   Resources are listed below to learn what your faith denomination says about immigrant rights.

The Gamaliel National Clergy Caucus has written this theological statement on comprehensive immigration reform based on the shared values of our varied faith traditions.


Catholic Church (US Conference of Bishops): website, statement

Episcopal Church: website, statement

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: website, statement

Presbyterian Church: website, statement

Unitarian Universalist Association: website, statement

United Church of Christ: website, statement

United Methodist Church: website, statement

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism: website, statement

LUNA Youth: We have a dream! DREAM Act 2010

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The youth in LUNA, organized by ESTHER, created a video at their back-to-school kick-off.  Listen to their stories and most importantly take action to support the DREAM Act! 

Contact your Senators and Congressperson and tell them that we need the DREAM Act passed now!  Here is a link to take action:

Click the link below to watch the video on youtube:

Congratulations to Peter Geniesse!

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Peter, a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish and long-time leader in ESTHER has dedicated his energies to addressing the fair treatment of immigrants.  Take time to read this important book.


Book Description:

Why have millions of Mexicans and other Latinos fled their homelands and risked their lives to come to the U.S. in search of a job? Why are they living in the shadows, ever fearful of being discovered by the migras and of being deported?

Why is the United States, a nation of immigrants, which often welcomed and recruited millions of Mexicans workers in the past, now spending billions of dollars on walls, border patrols, detention centers and workplace raids to get them out and keep them out?

The issue is as complex as it is divisive. There are root causes, of course, and U.S. politics and trade policies have played a major role in producing today’s immigration crisis.

But the migrants themselves, real people with real experiences related throughout “Illegal,” are the most credible witnesses to the system gone awry as well as the injustices suffered and endured on both sides of the border.

Let them tell you their poignant stories. Rosa lost her husband to the drug wars and Rogelio lost his best friend in the desert. Ernesto lost his farm. Enrique was deported after a workplace raid. And Cresencio and Hector now are living the American dream, thanks to the amnesty program of the 1980s. That's just a sample.

Purchase your own copy of this book.  Contact Peter Geniesse (920)725-6702 or buy online by clicking here:

Illegal: NAFTA refugees forced to flee 


Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Join ESTHER in a Discussion on Immigration Reform
With Gabriel Gonzlalez

Saturday, November 21st 4:00-5:30pm
At St. Therese, Appleton (213 E Wisconsin Ave)

Gabriel González, is the Director of the National Immigratin Campaign at the Center for Community Change in Washington DC. He will discuss with us the up-coming immigration reform campaign. Bring your questions and your ideas for action.

ESTHER Latino Youth support the DREAM Act in DC

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Five Hipanic youth from ESTHER traveled to Washington DC in June to attend a mock graduation and participate in legislative visits in support of the DREAM Act.  The DREAM Act will allow undocumented students that graduate from Wisconsin high schools to pay in-state rather than international rates for college tuition.  This Act will also provide a path toward citizenship for the graduates.

Victory! In-state Tuition for Immigrants in Wisconsin

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In the Wisconsin state budget agreed by the two houses and now signed by Governor Jim Doyle, provision for in-state tuition for undocumented students is included!  Wisconsin has become the 11th state to offer in-state college tuition to its undocumented students.

Thank you to all who gathered support from elected officials, agencies, rallied and phoned representatives in support of these measures. Hundreds of students each year will have access to higher education because of the work we have done.  Thank your legislators for taking this strong stand for immigrants and higher education! 

This victory is bittersweet.  We did not obtain driver cards for immigrants living in the state.  This recent work has brought about a stronger coalition including police chiefs, mayors, religious leaders, the dairy industry, associations of higher education, and more.  We have a stronger base to re-introduce this provision and we will press on towards winning driver cards in the state of Wisconsin.

 See Basilisa, a member of ESTHER, on TV during a recent rally at the Capitol in Madison.


Legislative Update!

Joint Finance Committee Passes Budget

In April, ESTHER and 9 other affiliates of WISDOM spoke out in support of in-state tuition and driver's cards for immigrant working families.  We are beginning to see the fruit of our work! 

Included! In-State College Tuition for Immigrant Students

On Friday, May 22nd the Joint Finance Committee voted in favor of in-state college tuition fees for immigrant students graduating from Wisconsin high schools. 

 Included! Driver's Cards for Immigrant Workers

The Joint Finance Committee 12-4 along party lines to approve an amendment to the state budget to include driver's cards for immigrants.  This critical step in the legislative process was the result of the hard work that has been achieved collectively by members of the Coalition for Safe Roads and supporters. 

 Read more about the importance of in-state tuition and driver's cards.


But WAIT!  We are not quite there yet!

LATEST: Driver's card amendment passes Joint Finance Committee 12-4.  Now we have to convince the rest of the legislators! 

Sign the petition!


Call your legislators and tell them to pass a budget that includes in-state tuition and driver's cards for immigrants and pass it FAST!

Ask them to support the Driver Card provision in the State Budget.
To find your legislators, click here: Who is my representative?
You can also call the legislative hotline at 1-800-362-9472.

Some Helpful Advice for When you Call your Legislators:

  • Give them your name and let them know that you live in their district.  They may ask for your contact information.
  • Ask them to support the Driver Card provision in the 2009-2011 State Budget.  Tell them why this is important to you.
  • If they support the Driver Card provision, thank them for being a supporter.




The Importance of Driver's Cards

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In State Tuition and Driving Card Talking Points

In State Tuition for Immigrant Students

The Problem: 

Immigrant students without social security numbers are not considered residents of Wisconsin and do not qualify for in-state tuition.  This makes higher education financially unavailable to thousands of dedicated, talented students who have lived most of their lives in Wisconsin and who desire to continue studying to positively contribute to our state.  Wisconsin is throwing away great talent and potential of students it has invested in for K-12 education, and creating a second class of young students who cannot continue to study past high school.  This institutional barrier has created depression and even suicidal thoughts for thousands of students whose dreams are cut short. 

 The Solution: 

Approve the provision in the state budget that will allow immigrant students to attend the state universities and technical colleges at the same in-state tuition rate as their high school classmates. To qualify, the students will have to: 1) Live in the State of Wisconsin for at least three years, 2) Graduate from a high school or receive a GED in Wisconsin, and 3)Promise to file an application for a permanent resident visa as soon they are eligible.


Driving Card for Immigrants

The Problem: 

In May 2005 the U.S. Congress passed the REAL ID Act, requiring all states to check immigration status before issuing a driver’s licenses or state ID, and to only issue driver’s licenses to persons who are US citizens or have legal status.  The state of Wisconsin, in anticipation of the REAL ID Act, passed a state law in March 2006 entitled Act 126, which took effect on April 1, 2007.   Under Act 126, undocumented immigrants and persons with legal immigration status who do not have a social security number can no longer obtain a driver’s license or state identification.  This law has had tragic consequences:

•    Restricting Drivers Licenses Hurts Wisconsin Families, Communities and Economy.   Immigrants make countless positive contributions to Wisconsin communities, schools, churches, economy, and culture.  For example, Latino immigrants make up an estimated 42% of the labor force in the Wisconsin Dairy Industry. To get to work and school, people are now forced to drive without a license or with false documents. 
•     Restricting Drivers Licenses Erodes Public Safety.   Without driver’s licenses, people are unable to acquire auto insurance, and many times cannot access proper driver’s education.   The current climate of fear and increased racial profiling erodes trust in local law enforcement, preventing many immigrants from reporting if they are victims or witnesses to crimes or participating in investigations. 

•    Restricting Drivers Licenses is a Financial Burden to Wisconsin.   REAL ID is an unfunded mandate that would cost Wisconsin and other states an estimated $11.1 billion to implement.  Insurance and automotive industries have lost the business of thousands of immigrants who no longer have licenses, and the state DMV has lost the financial contribution of people who are now denied access its services. 

The Solution:

Create an amendment to the state budget that adds a provision for a Driving Card for immigrants.  The REAL ID Act allows states to issue driving privilege cards to people who do not have a social security number.  This Driving Card could not be used for federal purposes, which under REAL ID is defined as boarding an airplane or entering a federal building, but could be used for driving and obtaining insurance.  Some states have passed similar measures, including the Utah State Legislature in March 2005.   The Wisconsin Driving Card is an interim solution in a longer term process toward repealing REAL ID and Act 126, and regaining full access to Driver’s Licenses and state identification independent of immigration status, the safest solution for all Wisconsin residents.  



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