Pastor, immigrant-rights activist to step down from church

Photo by: Lucio Villa Rev. Jose Landaverde is retiring in May from Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission, the church he founded in 2007

Photo by: Lucio Villa

Rev. Jose Landaverde is retiring in May from Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission, the church he founded in 2007

The Rev. Jose Landaverde couldn’t hold back his rage during a February 2013 congressional hearing on comprehensive immigration reform. Minutes after then U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano started testifying about immigration enforcement, Landaverde abruptly interrupted her.

“You’re the devil,” he yelled. “You’re separating families.”

Police arrested the 43-year-old Chicago pastor, along with other immigration activists. Landaverde said he didn’t plan to get arrested that day in Washington, D.C. He went to the nation’s capital to lobby for immigration reform.

Landaverde is one of the most visible immigrant-rights advocates in Chicago. He has blocked traffic outside Broadview Detention Center, the last stop for immigrants being deported. He held a sit-in outside immigration court holding a sign that read, “Judges are racist.”

His moral compass, not politics, guides his actions, he said. This sensibility was shaped in his home country of El Salvador where he fought in the jungle with leftist guerillas at the height of the civil war in the Central American nation in the 1980s.

“I’ve pissed off a lot of people. I’m the type of person that gives everything to his community. I was born in the movement,” he said. “I’m not here to look out for the political or monetary interest of others.”

After years of advocating for immigrants’ rights, Landaverde is retiring in May from Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission, the church he founded in 2007. He said he wants to take care of his health problems, including diabetes, an ulcer caused by his hunger strikes and symptoms resembling a stroke.

“It has been really hard for me. I’m sick and I don’t have the same energy I had before,” he said. “ This job has become too stressful.” Continue reading