Just as I was about to launch “City of Refuge” last fall, a new book came out on Le Chambon — the French village that was at the center of a remarkable World War II rescue operation. Having just read 10 or so other books on the subject over the past few years, I wasn’t exactly ready to read another. I just couldn’t imagine what new information I would learn at this point. Then I got an email from Patrick Henry, the author of another book on Le Chambon, “We Only Know Men.” He had just read the new release — which is very simply titled “The Plateau” (a reference to Le Chambon’s remote mountain location) — and he was excited to tell me about it. “‘The Plateau’ is beautifully written,” Henry said, “and it shows what no other book shows: that the people on the plateau continue to do the same rescue today — as they did in the 16th-century and during the Holocaust.”
On April 23, the government of King County, Washington released an executive order expressing the intention to ban deportation flights from passing through King County International Airport - Boeing Field. The decision, which left Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with one less facility for ground support, was won by years of local organizing by immigrant justice organizations. Monserrat Padilla is a coordinator of the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, an organization building a defense line for immigrant and refugee communities. In 2017, the organization established a hotline, designed to be a resource for individuals to report any observed immigration or detention activity. Through the hotline, the organization heard from passersby who said they’d witnessed ICE vehicles outside of the Boeing Field Airport, and detained persons being escorted through the airport by ICE officials, Padilla tells In These Times.
Ivan Ramirez, a 13-year-old Guatemalan asylum seeker, says he can’t remember a time in his life when he felt free. Now that the federal government intends to fine his mother more than $300,000, he worries that whatever semblance of safety they have in sanctuary is being threatened. Ivan and his mother Hilda Ramirez came to the United States fleeing familial violence in 2014. Since then, they have been “under attack” by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the elder Ramirez said. They were detained together for almost a year after first arriving in the United States.
President Donald Trump’s executive order threatening to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities” that limit cooperation with immigration authorities is unconstitutional, but a judge went too far when he blocked its enforcement nationwide, a U.S. appeals court ruled Wednesday. In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the order exceeded the president’s authority. “Absent congressional authorization, the administration may not redistribute or withhold properly appropriated funds in order to effectuate its own policy goals,” Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote for the majority.
In a recent White House meeting on “sanctuary cities,” President Trump called some undocumented immigrants “animals” — a disturbing new low even for someone who’s demonized immigrant communities from the beginning. The president painted a picture of “sadistic criminals” who are being given “safe harbor” through so-called sanctuary policies. While Trump and his right-wing supporters would have people believe that “sanctuary cities” are places that allow lawlessness and where immigrants aren’t prosecuted for crimes, the reality is far different. Here are the facts: the federal government can enforce immigration law anywhere. The term “sanctuary city” typically refers to a jurisdiction that wants to limit the use of local law enforcement resources to carry out federal law enforcement work, especially when they’re asked to violate constitutional protections.
Twenty-three cities and states are facing subpoenas if they do not prove they are complying with federal immigration laws regarding sanctuary cities in a “timely manner,” the Justice Department announced Wednesday. Letters were sent to each of the jurisdictions, which include California, New York City and Chicago, on Wednesday, demanding they provide documentation that proves they are not violating federal law. That law – known as Section 1373 – says state and local governments can’t prevent their employees from communicating with Immigration and Naturalization Service officials about the citizenship or immigration status of any individual. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is threatening to pull federal grants from cities not demonstrating compliance, though multiple federal courts have blocked President Donald Trump’s administration from withholding those funds; the issue is still being litigated.
The Department of Justice is considering subjecting state and local officials to criminal charges if they implement or enforce so-called sanctuary policies that bar jurisdictions from cooperating with immigration authorities. Immigration advocates argue such a move would be illegal. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made the disclosure Tuesday during a Senate committee hearing on the department’s operations. “The Department of Justice is reviewing what avenues might be available,” Nielsen said. “The context of this is of course not only putting my [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] officers at risk, but also finding an efficient and effective way to enforce our immigration laws.” She said it's safer for immigration agents to do their jobs if they have the assistance of local and state jurisdictions.
By Dante Barry for Moyers and Company - With the election of Donald Trump as president, there has been an alarming increase in the rate of targeted attacks on the country’s most vulnerable communities including immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ, black people, women and the poor. Around the country, states are consolidating power, increasing police budgets and ICE enforcement. Meanwhile, the federal government is working on repealing policies that have historically provided mobility and protection for communities of color — the most basic, undermining public education. Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, a human rights membership, chapter-based organization made up of eight local groups — from Bard College to Sarasota, Florida and Riverside, California — was formed in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin on March 19, 2012. While activists rallied in Union Square and others united to demanded justice for Trayvon Martin across the country, we asked one of the most fundamental questions: Who has the right to be safe and to feel safe in this country? What happened in September at Cornell University shows how precarious the situation can be. A black student was assaulted by fellow student, 19-year-old John Greenwood, and called the n-word while punched in the face repeatedly. Following the incident, Black Students United’s co-chair & Million Hoodies Cornell University chapter leader Delmar Fears led hundreds of black students into Willard Straight Hall and occupied the building for several hours after delivering a list of demands to the university’s president.
By Diane Lederman for Mass Live - Living at First Congregational Church for the last month, he misses his wife and children. But with the help of the greater faith community, he has adapted to a new way to be. The church has given sanctuary from deportation to Perez, a Springfield resident who entered the U.S. illegally from Guatemala in 1999. He moved into the church Oct. 19, the same day he had been ordered to fly back to Guatemala. Leaders of Amherst's First Congregational Church pledged Thursday to provide Springfield immigrant Lucio Perez sanctuary from deportation. Through translator Margaret Sawyer from the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, Perez said, "The first few days were hard but now I'm getting used to it." Perez has a small apartment in the church and a portable shower. He attends Pentecostal services three days a week. He reads the Bible. He lifts weights and rides an exercise bicycle. He has a TV and watches movies or listens to music. And he has been helping the church get ready for its Nov. 18 cranberry fair. Perez has lots of visitors, including Amherst College students and a recent guest lecturer from Guatemala. The church has screened and trained a stable of volunteers to help Perez and keep him company. "There are lots of really nice people here," he said through Sawyer. "They give me courage and strength."
By Emma Whitford for Gothamist - Roman Catholic activists are calling on the Archdiocese of New York to take a stronger stance against deportation. While dozens of churches, mosques and synagogues across the city are opening their doors to immigrants, providing everything from know-your-rights training to physical sanctuary from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they say Cardinal Timothy Dolan isn't doing his share. Some are calling on Dolan to explicitly denounce deportation, while others see an opportunity in the dozens of empty churches across Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx: buildings that have stood empty since August 2015, when the Archdiocese consolidated parishes as part of a sweeping plan to save on maintenance costs, particularly in parishes with dwindling attendance. Roughly 40 NYC churches have been merged into a neighboring parish since the consolidations, according to the archdiocese; 24 of them are closed for worship. The archdiocese, which also includes counties north of the city, shrank by 20 percent in one year. Felix Cepeda, an advocate for immigration rights and church reform, told Gothamist that the recent uptick in immigration enforcement across the country has inspired him.
By Camille Padilla Dalmau for Voices of NY - After activist Félix Cepeda staged a hunger strike denouncing the Catholic Church for not opening its New York houses of worship as “sanctuaries” for immigrants, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Kevin Sullivan responded that the Archdiocese’s parishes, schools and organizations have welcomed immigrants to the Big Apple for more than 200 years. Last Friday, Cepeda conducted a 24-hour hunger strike in front of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, and this Tuesday he repeated his fast, this time outside Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s house. “Catholic Charities has been at the forefront of this welcoming – protecting and integrating immigrants and refugees in their new homes. The regrettable and inacceptable rhetoric and actions of the past months have compelled Catholic Charities to intensify its efforts to ensure that immigrants and refugees get the support, guidance and protection that they need now more than ever,” said Sullivan. The monsignor added that the services they provide include legal representation, English classes, job safety training and information on civil rights, as well as help funding proper documents.
By Emma Niles for Truth Dig - President Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, may be embroiled in a tense workplace dispute, but there’s one issue they still see eye to eye on: cracking down on undocumented immigration. Sessions on Tuesday announced a new set of funding qualifications that would limit sanctuary cities’ receipt of federal grants for law enforcement. “So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” Sessions said in a statement. “As part of accomplishing the Department of Justice’s top priority of reducing violent crime, we must encourage these ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions to change their policies and partner with federal law enforcement to remove criminals,” the statement continues. “From now on, the Department will only provide Byrne JAG grants to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.”
By Lucy Duncan for AFSC - Lucy Duncan: Ingrid, thank you very much, it's wonderful to meet you. It's been very inspiring to watch your journey and your courage in the face of your struggles and in the last few weeks. I know that you have told this story a number of times, but just for the purpose of this interview and considering the situation now, Ingrid, could you please tell the story briefly of what led you to enter Sanctuary at Mountain View Friends Meeting? Ingrid Latorre: Really I took Sanctuary because all of the other options were being denied to me by Immigration. I took Sanctuary in order to continue fighting for justice in my case. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had what they call a voluntary departure, and then I asked for a stay in order to try and reopen my criminal case where I had received poor legal advice, and immigration denied that stay, twice, and the Quakers had been accompanying me during the two times they denied my stay and they offered me Sanctuary and that was a chance to keep fighting my legal case and to try and get justice. It was also the only way to keep my family together, to keep my two boys and my partner and I together in the United States while I fight my case.
By Porfirio Quintano for Labor Notes - I had no money and spoke no English when I illegally crossed the border into California 23 years ago, but I worked hard and fought for the right to stay here. Had I made that harrowing journey this year, I’m sure I’d be deported right back into the crosshairs of the Honduran government’s death squads that had targeted me and many other community organizers. Instead I quickly won a grant of political asylum—and later received full American citizenship. I know I’m one of the lucky ones. At the San Francisco hospital where I work, nine out of 10 members of my union are foreign-born. We never ask anyone about their immigration status, but I know several green card holders who are getting ready to apply for citizenship now that their place in America seems less secure. People might think the Bay Area is one big protective cocoon for immigrants, but that’s not the case. The suburb where I live is not a sanctuary city.
By Sarah Lazare for AlterNet - General Jeff Sessions doubles down on President Donald Trump’s threats to crack down on sanctuary cities, evidence is mounting that the administration has already made them the target of retaliatory immigration raids as part of a backdoor effort to force compliance. The term “sanctuary city” refers to the hundreds of jurisdictions across the United States that, to one degree or another, limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. CNN reported on March 25 that an unnamed “senior U.S. immigration official with direct knowledge of ongoing ICE actions” testified that federal authorities have descended upon sanctuary cities to pressure them to cooperate.