On Sunday, May 21, 2017 CBS 60 Minutes featured a story on Sanctuary - the increase in faith communities that offer physical sanctuary to undocumented persons, especially families. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/seeking-sanctuary-in-the-face-of-deportation/
Since January, 2017 there has been heightened interest and awareness of the complexities of the US immigration system due to the Trump administration. Many states and cities have become or reaffirmed their status as sanctuary or safe havens. Despite this commitment ICE continues to pick up people, send them to detention centers and then, deportation.
A recent incident in Phoenix, Arizona illustrates the challenges for immigration justice activist face with the changing nature of the Trump administration's policies.
During the Obama administration ICE agents and immigration judges could exercise "prosecutorial discretion" meaning that immigrants with a record of low level, non-violent misdemeanors would not be subject to deportation. Now, ICE agents have been given free reign to detain and deport anyone who has an order of deportation against them.
The Case of Marco Tulio Coss.
"Update on Shadow Rock United Church of Christ Safe Sanctuary
This email was sent by the Shadow Rock community to update congregation and others on the situation with ICE.
Marco's Deportation and the Next Steps Forward
May 17, 2017
For those who have not yet heard, we want to tell you that our friend and neighbor Marco Tulio Coss was detained and deported to Mexico last Thursday. The fact that he was taken away from his family saddens us - the fact that it was done so cruelly and under the guise of cooperation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement angers us. Marco and his attorney were repeatedly lied to last week and told that Marco should report to his check-in without fear of being detained. When he did so in the company of his attorney, members of the press, and his friends and neighbors, he was instructed to come back later to get fitted for an ankle bracelet. Once he was alone, he was immediately deported.
He did not have a chance to let his employer know.
He did not have a chance to settle his affairs here in the States.
He did not have a chance to pack a bag with his belongings.
He did not have a chance to say goodbye to his wife and children.
We encourage you to share Marco's story with others so that more people know about these unethical and unjust tactics ICE is using to separate families. We need to shine a light - not just on Marco's situation, but the thousands of people who are being rounded up and deported in this terrible manner.
For three years, we have tried to work cooperatively with ICE to resolve our sanctuary cases fairly and legally. ICE has broken trust with immigrants, with their attorneys, and with us. How do we move forward?
On Wednesday, May 17th, we have our monthly visit to the ICE Office in downtown Phoenix. Just like we have every month for some time now, we will read a statement and pray for all those affected by this broken system, both inside and outside the gate at ICE.
But we will also practice radical hospitality by passing out cold water, cupcakes, and compassion. It's a deliberate and direct act of opposition to this office which does not know the meaning of the word hospitality. We will listen to the stories of those waiting for ICE appointments and talk about the sanctuary movement, its people, and the need for immigration reform to anyone who will hear us. We call this an "ICE-Breaker" and we hope you will join us at 11:00 a.m. at 2035 N. Central Avenue.
We are heartbroken for Marco and his family. We were inspired to see his wife Laura and children in worship with us on Sunday. We strive to keep Misael safe as he now has to make bi-weekly check-ins with ICE. We strive to keep Ismael and Sixto safe within our walls at Shadow Rock until their cases can be resolved fairly and justly. We will keep moving forward together until no more families are ripped apart.
-Pastor Ken and the Shadow Rock Staff
For more information on Shadow Rock's Sanctuary, go to http://www.shadowrockucc.or g/sanctuary/ .
We who care about the immigrants in our midst need to develop new ways of accompanying people who are working within the immigration system in order to remain in the USA and not to be separated from their families.
In Portland, Oregon the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMirj) provides accompaniment, upon request, to ICE check-ins, court appearances and soon, will launch a monthly vigil outside of ICE similar to the one that is done in Phoenix. We need to shine light on the practices of ICE and let them know that there are people who are prepared to assist undocumented immigrants. Check out the IMirj website: imirj.org/ for further information and actions.
Another excellent analysis of the new ICE practices was in the New York Times several weeks ago. www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/magazine/is-it-possible-to-resist-deportation-in-trumps-america.html?_r=0
Let's work together to resist deportations and detentions!
9th Annual Mother's Day Vigil, Tacoma, Washington.
Each year the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMirJ) from Portland, Oregon joins the Church Council of Greater Seattle and the Washington Community Action Network to sponsor a vigil the Saturday before Mother's Day.
This year was the largest with several hundred people gathered - those of us from Portland travelling three hours north to Tacoma to witness to the families of the detained. We are not allowed to enter the private corporation detention center operated by the GEO corporation, but anyone visiting a loved one in the detention center did share the message that we do not support either the privatization of detention centers nor the detention of undocumented persons - frequently with no legal representation.
A representative from the Middle East refugee community made the connection between the ban against Muslim countries and the ICE raids on undocumented communities. "All our communities live in fear and we stand together to say NO to separation of families and bans on people from certain Muslim countries." He spoke of the detention of an Iranian woman at the Portland airport who was sent to the Tacoma Detention Center until a lawyer could free her based on the fact that she had a legitimate visa to visit her family.
The action was to place flowers on the Detention Center fence to honor the thousands of families separated by ICE.
We sang protest songs in solidarity with the detained persons and their families - "No more deportations/No mas deportaciones, No more deportations, never turning back, never turning back/No mas deportaciones, nunca para atra, nunca para atras."
In a closing prayer for Immigrants, we asked to open everyone's eyes to see the immigrants and undocumented: "The farm worker, the hotel worker, the line cook, the child care provider and the health care worker."
A group of young people from a Portland church brought a sign that represents the reality for children living with undocumented parents. If I were an ICE agent - how would I or you feel if my/our job was to separate families?
Join demonstrations and vigils daily outside the NORCOR facility in the Dalles, Oregon. See Street roots article on the hunger strike and demonstrations news.streetroots.org/2017/05/17/ice-going-after-farmworkers-county-jails-make-money.
Organize a delegation to support the detainees inside NORCOR. www.rop.org/support-norcor-hunger-strikers-gorge/ They want daily and weekend groups to vigil. It begins every day at 5PM or midday on weekends. Rural Organizing Project is one of the sponsors of these vigils.
Please send me your ideas and questions in the comment section!
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?