Ev Howe is a powerful Catholic leader within Gamaliel affiliate,
ABLE, in Atlanta, Georgia. Ev is a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and is the chairperson for ABLE’s immigration campaign. He is also a member of Georgia Detention Watch. Ev is a parishioner of St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church in Atlanta (and president of its St. Vincent de Paul conference). Along with others, Ev has made a difference empowering the disadvantaged in Georgia.
How did your work with Gamaliel begin?
I have been with ABLE since 1999 and we began doing work with Gamaliel in 2006. I initially started organizing Sidewalks to Schools. We have a reputation in Georgia for not being slim because there are not many sidewalks for exercise nor for children and parents to walk to school. We were trying to get sidewalks for both health and safety improvements for our state. Since the beginning, we have had several successes. I led a long-standing and successful ESL program at St. Jude that graduated many individuals. It was during this program that I began working on immigration reform with Ana Garcia-Ashley, Executive Director of Gamaliel. We did a lot of organizing in the state and at the national level for compassionate immigration reform and against oppressive laws against longtime resident undocumented citizens.
What work is being done within St. Jude and ABLE that support Gamaliel’s Fire of Faith Campaign?
I have been spending a lot of time on immigration reform locally and nationally. I was part of a lawsuit against our governor who signed into Georgia law the interstate “harboring and transporting” federal law to criminalize helping immigrants locally. We took the governor to court and the appeal was upheld and taken out of the Georgia law. There is now another proposed Georgia law that is unconstitutional requiring the undocumented parents of US citizen children to have more than a foreign passport to get food stamps, drivers licenses or even marriage licenses for those under 18 years old. We are struggling with this law and need to work together to fight against these types of issues and injustices. National immigration reform would stop this oppression.
How does Fire of Faith mirror Catholic Social Teachings?
We are fighting for all the same things the bishops and the Church are fighting for–especially with immigration. The similarities between Gamaliel and Catholic Church is amazing. We’re trying to get all people to realize they have power to “correct injustice”. I am currently on the immigration task force and a member of Georgia Detention Watch, trying to reduce the prison population in the US (which has the highest per capita in the world). We have two of the worst detention centers here. We are working to stand up against racial profiling and the poor treatment of prisoners, including those who are not citizens. They are not given due process.
How does Fire of Faith align with your own Catholic faith?
Part of my mantra is to do what God told us to do. If our US dollar says “in God we trust”, we should then recognize that our God says to “love thy God and thy neighbor”. That is not happening and we have to do better. If we do detain and deport people, we have to do it honoring their dignity. This fight has been a series of tremendous ups and downs. Some of our legislators are trying to make victories like this harder to win. It is important to remember that even when you don’t think you are making a difference, to keep working so there is still movement forward.