When I asked Father Guy Wilson what the children of immigrant parents are telling him, amid the current inundation with media chatter, political rhetoric, and executive action on the topic of immigration, tears welled up in his eyes and one fell on his clerical shirt.
“It’s hard,” he said. “They are so scared.”
“Some of the teenagers have told me: ‘My parents are good people. They have never even had a traffic ticket. Why would anyone want to take them away from me?’”
The vigil, organized by the DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network, was served to publicly accompany Veronica to her hearing — one key tenet of providing sanctuary, immigration activists say. Advocates pledged to stay at the ICE offices until her appointment was complete.
Real people, with real stories, and real families are trembling in fear for the future of their families and, in some cases, their own lives. For those of us who follow Jesus, our faith must inform our citizenship — not the inverse. It's time for us to ask better questions, seek deeper understanding and accompany our neighbors— whether local or global — who are navigating the scariest moments of their lives.
The Rev. Leah Daughtry stood in front of fellow black Christian leaders and told them they will need to work harder for social justice.
“If you’ve been feeding them, now clothe them,” said the Pentecostal pastor and 2016 CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee at a conference last week. “If you’ve been clothing them, now console them. If you’ve been at a march, now lead the march. If you’ve been at a rally, now organize the rally.”
“Are we going to have to worry about ICE agents swooping down on our clients on distribution day?” he said. “What if my congregation chose to offer sanctuary to an immigrant facing deportation? Would we have to worry about immigration officers and sheriff’s deputies kicking down our front door?”
Bishop Mark Beckwith, who heads the Episcopal Diocese of Newark in New Jersey, says at least 10 of the 100 congregations in his diocese have parishioners who are affected by the new policies. He described a heightened sense of urgency as his diocese investigates what its collective response should be.
“What is so upsetting about this is we don’t know what a safe space is,” he said, citing uncertainty about whether the traditional status of churches as sanctuaries will be respected. “We need to move as fast as these executive orders are moving. That’s the challenge. We are grounded in our biblical faith and we need to respond.”
New policies also allow for easier immediate deportation by expanding the expedited removal process. This specific part of the policy allows U.S Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport people at a faster rate from anywhere in the country. DHS has also ordered 10,000 new immigration and customs agents, plus the revival of a program that qualifies local police officers to assist in deportation.
“The practices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement right now are not in line with who we say we are as a government and a country,” Kumpf said. “What they did was legally on the line of violating the Sensitive Locations Memo. That’s extraordinarily morally reprehensible.”
Drafted in 2011, the Sensitive Locations Memo places restrictions on ICE enforcement in sensitive locations such as schools, places of worship, and hospitals. Many at the gathering felt that the sensitive lines of sanctuary were crossed on the morning of the Feb 8.
On Feb. 8, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos went to Mass and said a prayer before voluntarily going to her biannual appointment at the immigration office in Phoenix.
Guadalupe knew that, because of President Trump’s executive order on immigration enforcement, she was now considered a high priority for deportation and could be sent back to Mexico, leaving her two teenage children, both of them U.S. citizens.
A recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute reveals there aren’t any states in the U.S. in which 50 percent or more of its residents support deportation as adequate reform of the immigration system. Even in California, Texas, and Florida, states that respectively have the highest, second-highest, and third-highest number of undocumented immigrants in the country, this holds true.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made good this week on his threats to restrict funding from any cities offering protection to immigrants who are undocumented, reports CBS News. On Wednesday, Abbott witheld $1.5 million in grant funds from Travis County, which includes Texas' capital city of Austin. The reason for Abbott's action was apparently Travis County sheriff Sally Hernandez' refusal to enforce federal immigration orders.
I want to ask: Where is Jesus when you call for a ban and a wall? But the answer is clear. Jesus is with them: the ones we’ve turned away, the ones we allow to suffer out of fear and hate. Jesus is holding the hand of the scared child being detained in an airport backroom. Jesus is breaking bread with our neighbors on the far side of the wall and our siblings seeking refuge across the world. And Jesus is saying to us, “come and follow me.”
More than 800 congregations have declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants, about double the number since Election Day.
Leaders of the sanctuary movement say the pace of churches, and other houses of worship, declaring themselves sanctuaries has quickened, in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20.
First came the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Seattle declaring their cities “sanctuaries”, and saying they will protect undocumented immigrants from President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deport them.
Then thousands of students, professors, alumni, and others at elite universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Brown, signed petitions, asking their schools to protect undocumented students from any executive order.
Now, religious congregations, including churches and synagogues, are declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for immigrants fleeing deportation.
On Nov. 14, in a press conference at the White House, President Obama spoke about the possibility that President-elect Donald Trump may get rid of his executive action "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA). DACA enables undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before their sixteenth birthday, before June 15, 2007, to remain in the country without fear of deportation and receive a two-year work permit that can be renewed.
The highest calling of our civil government is to enable people to flourish, secure in communities with liberty and justice for all. In pursuit of that goal, they must at times take appropriate action in pursuit of public safety. However, as the recent police shootings in Chicago and elsewhere have shown, civil servants can commit injustices in the pursuit of their goals. I fear that this happened last March when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested more than 2,000 “criminal aliens” in a sweep it called Operation Cross Check. I fear it is happening again in recent raids to deport Central American women and children seeking asylum and safety from violence.
When you turn on the faucet in Flint, Mich. you don’t just get water — you also get the potent neurotoxin lead. And without a driver’s license, Flint residents are being refused bottled water from the city, so undocumented people have to search elsewhere for clean water, reports America magazine. Deacon Omar Odette of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Flint says that members of his parish have been arrested by immigration authorities for not having documentation.
With chants of “Hey, Obama, don’t deport my mama!” and "Que queremos? Justicia! Cuando? Ahora!" a diverse group of immigration activists and leaders made their way from St. John’s Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square to rally at the White House on Tuesday. They were there to demand that the Obama administration stop deporting Central American asylum seekers and instead grant them Temporary Protected Status. With them they carried boxes full of more than 136,000 petition signatures calling for the same.
Due to a sudden wave of ICE raids and deportations of asylum seekers fleeing violence in Central America, the White House has faced anger from numerous Democrats in Congress, who drafted a letter denouncing the raids. This new refugee plan, which sets up screening facilities in Central America, aims to reduce human smuggling as well to slow the flow of undocumented immigration.
Rosa Robles spent 461 days inside a Tucson, Ariz., church after receiving a deportation order that would have separated her from her husband and children.
She has finally received an assurance from the federal government that she will not be deported, so on Nov. 11, she left the church for the first time in over one year.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Nov. 9 against the Obama administration’s attempt to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.
President Obama created the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs by executive action in 2014.
Sojourners has long been in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, and opposes the Fifth Circuit’s decision. Sojourners founder and president Jim Wallis released the following statement on the ruling.