"People Are Not Illegal" Calls for Immigration and Incarceration Reform

April 13-14 events spearheaded by University students and community partners

CHICAGO (April 9, 2014) — North Park University students, staff, faculty, and community partners are seeking answers to a deep question of faith and action: How are we called to follow Jesus in the pursuit of justice? This spring, the People Are Not Illegal campaign is taking up this question around the issues of mass incarceration and immigration in the United States.

“People Are Not Illegal grew out of students’ desire to mobilize the faith community around our Christian value of the image of God—that each human life must be valued and treated with dignity,” according the Richard Kohng, Urban Outreach coordinator at North Park. The campaign aims to show how legislation on every level should reflect this value.

“This is not a political issue to us, this is a spiritual issue,” Kohng said.

The Faith and Justice student team from North Park’s University Ministries reached out to local community organizers and faith leaders to form partnerships with other faith groups in the effort to bring reform to immigration and mass incarceration policies with this moral value framework in mind.

“These partnerships have put local organizers together at the table with North Park students to design the People Are Not Illegal events,” Kohng said. Campaign collaborators include the Evangelical Covenant Church, Faith Rooted Chicago, ONE Northside, CrossWalk Chicago, Young Leaders Alliance, World Relief Chicago, G92, Great St. John Bible Church, Grace and Peace Church, New Life Covenant, and Willow Chicago.

Events will begin off Sunday evening, April 13, at the 8:00 pm Collegelife worship service in Anderson Chapel. Joshua DuBois, former head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for the White House and author of The President's Devotional, will speak about how the Bible can inspire Christians to follow Christ in pursuit of justice.

On Monday, April 14, a public meeting will start at 2:30 pm in North Park’s Anderson Chapel. The campaign steering committee has invited public officials and community leaders to discuss the issues of immigration and mass incarceration and how public policy can reflect the idea that all people have inherent value in the eyes of God. Confirmed attendees include U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, Illinois State Senator Daniel Biss, and Chicago Alderman Deb Mell. Chicago poet and activist Malcolm London and the North Park University Gospel Choir will also perform at the meeting, reminding attendees that this action grows out of faith and spirituality, according to Kohng.

Romal Tune

“This meeting is a chance for the faith community to rally together, to say to our legislators that this is an issue that matters to us as people of the faith, this is a specific thing that we all care about,” Kohng said.

Following the meeting, at 3:30 pm, participants will begin a march from North Park University to Cook County Jail, with a mid-point rally at New Life Covenant Church in Humboldt Park organized by World Relief Chicago to focus more specifically on immigration reform. Pastors Wilfredo DeJesus and Danny Flores will address the marchers. The expected time of this stop is 5:15 pm.

The group will then continue on to Cook County Jail at 2600 S. California, where ONE Northside will focus participants on mass incarceration issues. According to Kohng, the major rally topic will be a “Ban the Box” initiative, calling upon legislators to reform the job application process that allows employers to discriminate against job applicants who must check a box identifying a felony conviction. This final rally will begin at approximately 8:00 pm.

For more information about People Are Not Illegal, please visit their website.

Media inquiries should be addressed to Nate Mouttet, vice president for enrollment and marketing, at (773) 244-5705 or nmouttet@northpark.edu.

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