The Centro Sin Fronteras Community Services Network (CSF), whose name is Spanish for “Center Without Borders,” is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes open borders and strives to advance the rights of illegal aliens in the United States. CSF is headquartered in Chicago’s Lincoln United Methodist Church (LUMC), whose co-pastors — Emma Lozano and her husband, Walter “Slim” Coleman — founded the organization in 1987. They established CSF in memory of Ms. Lozano’s late brother, the left-wing community organizer Rudy Lozano, whose son was the Communist Party USA / Young Communist League activist Pepe Lozano.
As part of her work with CSF, Emma Lozano advocates on behalf of so-called “DREAMers” — young illegal aliens who, under the provisions of former President Barack Obama‘s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action, were protected temporarily from deportation. She is also a supporter of Democratic Party politicians, as evidenced by the endorsement she gave to Illinois gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker in 2018. Notably, Lozano signed a letter extolling Pritzker’s virtues on LUMC letterhead — thereby violating the so-called Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law prohibiting churches from publicly supporting or opposing candidates for political office.
During its first several years of activity, CSF fought mostly to end school overcrowding and to secure housing and healthcare assistance for immigrant families. By the mid-1990s, however, its emphasis had shifted to advocating for amnesty and the creation of a pathway-to-citizenship for illegal aliens in the United States. Toward that end, in 1997 the organization inundated Democratic House of Representatives Member Luis Gutierrez with thousands of petitions urging him to introduce the first congressional bill for mass legalization — which he did. Since then, CSF and Gutierrez have developed a close partnership. Moreover, the group has organized numerous marches condemning deportations and the separation of illegal-alien adults from their U.S.-born children.
In late 2001, an illegal alien named Elvira Arellano, who was employed as a cleaning woman aboard planes at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, was arrested as part of a post-9/11 sweep of illegals who were working at U.S. airports nationwide. Five years later, Arellano, rather than submit to her scheduled deportation, chose to evade immigration authorities by joining CSF and taking sanctuary — with her 7-year-old son who had been born out-of-wedlock in the United States — inside Chicago’s Adalberto United Methodist Church (AUMC). As the Chicago Tribune has noted: “Arellano became the face of the new sanctuary movement, a political strategy in the U.S. that first unfolded in the 1980s, in which churches and synagogues house immigrants. Though churches can’t guarantee protection, they are generally off limits to law enforcement raids.”
Arellano and CSF subsequently formed a new splinter group, La Familia Latina Unida (LFLU, “The United Latin Family”), which quickly grew to represent hundreds of families whose members were facing possible separation because the parents were in the U.S. illegally. With CSF’s help, these local illegals testified before the Chicago City Council, the Cook County Board, and the Illinois State Legislature, winning formal support not only from those institutions, but also from the mayor of Chicago and the governor of Illinois. More than 15 times, LFLU members traveled in busloads to Washington, D.C., where they demonstrated in front of the White House and spoke personally to hundreds of U.S. senators and House members. They also organized a national class action suit which eventually made its way to the Supreme Court.
In 2006, CSF co-founder Emma Lozano announced that she planned to lead a mass voter-registration drive as well as a citizenship-training initiative for “undocumented immigrants.” “We need to change America,” she explained. “We are all America.”
In August 2007, the aforementioned Elvira Arellano left the sanctuary of AUMC to attend an immigration-reform rally in Los Angeles, but she was arrested and deported to Mexico by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that same day. Her son, however, was permitted to remain in the United States. After several years of continuing to organize in Mexico, Arellano in 2014 led a group of asylum-seekers in an illegal crossing of America’s southern border. She and the five-month-old son whom she had brought with her were detained for two days by immigration authorities before being released to petition for asylum. Today Arellano claims to be a “co-chair” of CSF, though she is not listed as such on the group’s Form 990 tax filings.
In recent years, CSF has focused chiefly on fighting for “an immediate moratorium on all raids, deportations and separation of families”; promoting “comprehensive immigration reform that provides legalization for the 12 million undocumented” foreigners in the United States; and advocating for a “renegotiation” of the “trade and financial agreements” by which the U.S. has allegedly harmed Central American economies.
CSF has many close ties to the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). For example, CSF board member Cecilia Garcia serves as president of LULAC Council 5311 in Chicago, and CSF co-founder Emma Lozano is a member of the immigration committee of LULAC’s Illinois state affiliate. On January 12, 2015, Lozano and LULAC activist Julie Contreras co-moderated a town hall meeting entitled “Targeted Fraud: How Predatory Practices and Pyramid Schemes Impact Latino Communities.” Panel members included LULAC national executive director Brent Wilkes and Make The Road New York activist Francisca Montana, among others.
CSF is a sister group not only to La Familia Latina Unida, but also to Pueblo Sin Fronteras.
Further Reading: “The Open Border Activists Behind the Illegal Immigrant Caravans” (Capital Research Center, 10-24-2018); “Centro Sin Fronteras” (InfluenceWatch.org and Fluenglish.wordpress.com); “Agents Arrest Immigrant Activist” (Los Angeles Times, 8-20-2007); “Immigration Activist Arellano Allowed to Remain in United States for Another Year” (Chicago Tribune, 3-15-2017).