BY ISN STAFF | June 10, 2019
The Ignatian Solidarity Network has received a generous grant from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) Strategic National Grant Program. The $750,000 grant, to be used over three years, will enable ISN to further the Catholic Church’s commitment to the justice and dignity of immigrants by expanding the mobilization of the Ignatian network and the larger Church. To lead efforts and enact grant goals to build upon ISN’s current immigration work, ISN will welcome José Cabrera as the new Director of Education and Advocacy on Migration beginning on June 17, 2019.
ISN will significantly expand advocacy capacity—forming leaders, networking and animating Jesuit institutions, and building on the success of existing ISN programs such as the Campaign for Hospitality and Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. The ultimate goal of these grant-funded efforts is the development of a broader network of individuals and institutions dedicated to standing with and supporting immigrant communities and passage of humane comprehensive immigration reform.
The CCHD Strategic National Grant Program serves to fund initiatives falling into a variety of categories, including addressing urgent areas of national emphases, including immigration. Program priorities addressed by ISN’s work include defending the life and dignity of the human person and the promotion of cultural diversity in the Church. CCHD strategies include participation in decision-making by those marginalized by injustice, a focus on empowering, giving voice to, and building capacity of those closest to problems, building community concerned for the common good, and focus on causes of injustice.
For nearly 10 years, ISN has collaborated with member institutions and other partners to amplify the Catholic call for comprehensive immigration reform and humane migration policies. In 2015, ISN escalated its commitment to this work by becoming a member of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition and core member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants Campaign.
The rise in anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric and policies has challenged ISN to take a further step to engage the Ignatian network in a deeper commitment to immigrant justice. In 2017, ISN, with funding from the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, initiated a multi-year, bi-national Campaign for Hospitality focused on domestic immigration. The Campaign seeks to promote a culture of hospitality toward those who migrate through encounter, understanding, and action.
José Cabrera, ISN’s new Director of Education and Advocacy on Migration, was born in a small village in Mexico and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. Growing up, Cabrera remembers his mom organizing undocumented workers in Cincinnati for a just wage and safe working conditions. During this time, he learned organizing tricks and skills to keep people engaged and hopeful during disappointing moments. It wasn’t long until Cabrera started organizing for immigration reform issues, sharing his family’s story and how he would benefit from legislation like the DREAM Act. After high school, Cabrera, a DACA recipient, studied at Xavier University, while at the same time working at the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) in Cincinnati where he started a group called Youth Educating Society (YES).
Cabrera envisioned YES as an immigrant youth-led group working to empower other immigrant youth in Cincinnati, working towards pro-immigration policy, and connecting immigrant youth with each other. Through his work at IJPC and YES he became an advocate for DACA recipients across Cincinnati, particularly at Xavier, by training and working with staff members on making Xavier a DACA friendly campus. In 2017 Cabrera attended his first ISN program, the Ignatian Justice Summit on Immigration, where Cabrera fell in love with ISN’s mission. He spoke at the Advocacy Day Public Witness during the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in 2017 and the 2018 Ignatian Justice Summit, and has contributed to ISN’s online content. This past year, Cabrera was a government relations associate at NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice in Washington, D.C. where he enhanced his understanding and knowledge of furthering pro-immigrant policy.
“The Ignatian Solidarity Network staff and board are grateful for the support of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and are eager to welcome José Cabrera to the ISN team,” said Christopher Kerr, ISN executive director. “We know from our current work that there is significant room for growth in our network to form individuals and communities as advocates for immigration reform, and José’s experience and knowledge will allow us to take our current work many steps further.”