At the urging of Austin Interfaith, Central Texas Bishops, Catholic Charities and immigration reform allies, Austin City Council unanimously passed an official denunciation of Travis County's "Secure Communities," directing the City Manager to explore alternative ways to book arrests. High achieving 13-year old Alan Gonzalez Otero, from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and Austin Interfaith, testified against Secure Communities, describing an occasion when he was 9 years old and thought he might never see his father again. Rev. Thomas VandeStadt of the Congregational Church of Austin reminded the Council that Central Texas Bishops opposed cooperation between law enforcement and immigration, and that "on principle" was opposed to Secure Communities. City Hall Chambers, filled with 300 supporters of the resolution, erupted in cheers as the Mayor announced the 7-0 vote.
City councilmembers will vote Thursday on a long-debated initiative requiring that corporations that receive public subsidies pay the prevailing wage or at least $11 per hour (the City and County established living wage) -- something that "groups such as Austin Interfaith and the Austin-based Workers Defense Project have been seeking for years."
Economic incentives has been a key issue in prior elections. Austin Interfaith has been working on this issue since 2008.
City May Set $11 Wage for Tax Deals, Austin American Statesman
"Austin Interfaith leaders mobilized members to show up en masse to city budget hearings to plug these programs, meet with council members and bombard council offices with calls and emails in the days leading up to the final budget vote.
The nonprofit was elated that council members agreed to spend money on all of Austin Interfaith’s priorities, totaling $2.4 million.
Austin Interfaith and the parks coalition “were effective because they were very diverse, broad-based groups that had a clear message: that as a world-class city, we should be able to fund some of these critical needs better,” City Council Member Kathie Tovo said."
Organized Groups Won the Day in Austin Budget Vote, Austin American Statesman
In a prayer service and press conference organized by Austin Interfaith, Central Texas Bishops and clergy from six religious denominations “pressed Tuesday for reforms centered on keeping families together and allowing unauthorized immigrants to earn legal residency with a path to citizenship….[stating] such principles are key to what they called just and humane immigration reforms.”
Central Texas Religious Leaders: Immigration Change Must be Just, Humane, Austin American Statesman [Printable version]
‘Constant change is not a friend for Title One families,’ Robertson says. ‘Nor is it for students to jump from school to school. That upheaval — some of our most successful families will be thrown into I don’t know what kind of abyss.’
Members of the Travis Heights community are also concerned the school will lose its diverse student population. Minerva Skeith is a Travis Heights parent and member of the local community group, Austin Interfaith.”
Presentation and Exchange at City Hall, City of AustinMay 13, 2013