Faith Leaders Take Prophetic Action To Stop ICE Raids, Deportations

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Above Photo: CLUE: Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice/ Facebook

“…faith leaders are calling on congregations to open their doors and offer Sanctuary to help those facing deportations”

Los Angeles, CA – Wednesday afternoon, 21 faith leaders from various religious traditions were arrested blocking the road outside the U.S. federal court in downtown Los Angeles. Outraged by the continuous raids and deportations terrorizing the immigrant community, the faith leaders participated in this prophetic action during Holy Week just outside the very courtroom where Central American children are defending their cases. The interfaith action was in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s threats of imminent raids last Christmas Eve and its “Operation Border Guardian” that has already detained over 300 Central Americans who came here as unaccompanied children.

Demands of those arrested included:

  • Sanctuary not Deportations

  • Stop the ICE raids!

  • Stop targeting children!

  • ICE Out of LA

  • No 287g!  No PEPcomm!

  • Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for all Central American refugees

  • End the prosecution of Francisco Aguirre and all other Central American Refugees!

  • Due Process-Legislation that would provide free legal assistance to immigrants

Rabbi Jonathan D. Klein, Executive Director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) said: “This prophetic witness and action occurs on the day before the Jewish holiday of Purim which is called the Fast of Esther. The biblical Queen Esther asked the Jews of Persia to fast in order to spiritually help her overturn Haman’s evil decree to kill all the Jews. Purim celebrates the overturning of the decree. Similarly we gather today in the streets of Los Angeles, on the Fast of Esther, to demand that those women and children seeking sanctuary in our land be spared deportation and that the evil decree of deportation be overturned, so that we can celebrate a Purim of salvation from the suffering facing millions of immigrants in our land.”

The Rev. Francisco García, CLUE Board Member and Episcopal priest, says: “During Holy Week, we remember that Jesus was servant to all, he washed his disciples feet, and he called us to serve the most vulnerable among us; he showed us how to offer radical hospitality to the stranger. The faith community is gathered out here today to demonstrate this commitment, calling on our congregations to be places of sanctuary in all senses of the word to immigrants facing deportation, so we can keep children and families together and out of harm’s way.”

Over the last six years, over 2.5 million people have been deported, causing  family separations and fear throughout the immigrant community. Given ongoing extreme violence in Central America linked to U.S. foreign policy, military intervention and economic colonization, these deportations are endangering the lives of those sent back to their countries of origin. Over the last two years, thousands of women and children seeking asylum have fled to the U.S., but the lack of legal support has meant that many have not received a court date or have lost their cases, resulting in deportation and detention.

Bishop Guy Irwin of Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America spoke at the gathering and stated: “Jesus calls us to welcome the stranger in God’s name, but our laws make neighbors into aliens. In this week that Christians call Holy we emphasize our care for all those in need. Jesus became a servant to all and we too are servants to those who need us no matter their citizenship status, that’s why we’re calling for a stop to deportations.”

In the midst of a political environment of fear and scapegoating, faith leaders are calling on congregations to open their doors and offer Sanctuary to help those facing deportations and send a moral message that we should be welcoming immigrants, especially those fleeing violence, not turning them away.

Link to Photos by Sarah Shin, CLUE Communications