Saturday, February 4, 2017

SANCTUARY (Church, City, State) and Solidarity with Immigrants

I'm participating in a lot of conversations these days about Sanctuary, including developments where I live (Berkeley, CA), and the many other places across the US that are standing in solidarity with immigrants.

I decided to assemble some of the materials I've been sharing in one place.

FIRST . . . check out these awesome photos of the vigil this past Saturday at the detention center in Richmond (just north of Berkeley):

About 100 people turned out for the vigil at Richmond Detention Ctr on Feb 4!
(photo: David Bacon - see full album on Facebook)

We had a big group from University Lutheran Chapel.
(See video below for more on Sanctuary activities at ULC.)

For more information on the monthly vigils at Richmond Detention Center, and the many opportunities for involvement throughout the East Bay and other parts of California, see:

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HumanIntegrity)
East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition (EBIIC)

In particular, I want to pass along the powerful words of IM4HumanIntegrity program director Deborah Lee, shared with us on Saturday:

We stand here in prayer and solidarity with the (150-300) immigrants who are asylum seekers, green card holders, and long term residents, who are being held here under civil immigration charges.

We stand here – in front of one of the 250 immigration detention centers across this country – many county facilities like these, and the majority for profit -private prison facilities owned by GEO and CCA.

We stand here in prayer and solidarity ALS0 for the hundreds of other incarcerated individuals – 2.4 million incarcerated in our nation in 7,500 prisons -- disproportionately black and brown – reflected of persistent and unacceptable racial inequities through every social institutions and especially our criminal justice system. We painfully acknowledge that 70% of those who remain detained here in this facility are PRE-trial , have been granted bail, but cannot afford it.

We pray for All their families. Often the chief breadwinner is taken away, a mother or a father, putting children and families in economic jeopardy, facing the threat of homelessness. We pray and offer our moral, spiritual and concrete support to the families whose loved ones are held here. We invite them to speak their truth right here into our circle - to give their testimony so that they know, they are not alone.

We stand here today in solidarity with all those impacted by the illegal ban of refugees, green card holders, visa holders and family members from the 7 countries and other countries at risk - which was overturned by a judge last night. We are here to stand Against the Executive Orders that would triple ICE agents, build a comprehensive border wall, punish sanctuary cities, and collect fines and fees from undocumented persons and those who help them.

We stand here in prayer and solidarity because this prison- is a symbol of the militarized and punitive mindset towards immigration and other social problems. This prison and the proposals to build the wall – at the cost of $4 million per mile- and other anti immigration policies makes all of our communities less safe and secure. We demand that government resources be used to invest in our communities and address root causes of migration


We pray, knowing that all our faith traditions call upon us to welcome strangers and aliens, to practice compassion, forgiveness and understanding for those in prison, for they are our sisters and brothers and our families, and them, we were once strangers and aliens in this land.

We remember and must not forget that:

10 years ago – thousands of Muslims forced to register were deported and many families were torn apart.

1 grandmother ago there was the Chinese Exclusion act.- banning all from China and eventually from the whole Asia Pacific rim.

1 grandmother ago by Executive Order 120,000 Japanese Americans were Interned.

1 grandmother ago Jewish children and families in need of safety and protection were turned away and denied entry.

1 grandmother ago during the Great depression there was the mass Deportation of Mexicans and Filipinos

2 grandmothers ago slavery was legal and those of African descent were only considered 3/5 of a person.

2 grandmothers ago- this was Mexico.

3 grandmothers ago- this was Ohlone land and that despite everything it is STILL.

We lift up the dignity and resilience and love of those who endured. May their spirits strengthen us to resist and end the injustices in our time.

Rev. Deborah Lee
Program Director
Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HumanIntegrity)

You can see Deborah speak in this brief video about the Sanctuary project at University Lutheran Church in Berkeley. (Over 700 congregations have pledged their commitment to resist deportations and discrimination through Sanctuary.)

Short video about SANCTUARY by filmmaker Theo Rigby of Immigrant Nation.

(And here's a separate blog post that I wrote on the day of the Sanctuary press conference depicted in the video: IN BERKELEY: Declaring Sanctuary, Changing Hearts and Minds.)

Three related resources

We need lots of resources to build up communities of resistance step-by-step. Here are a few . . .

First, check out the "Faith on the Move" 6-part study guide from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. It was prepared by Rev. Dr. David Vásquez-Levy and invites people to think deeply about our faith tradition in connection with today's events. (Exodus, anyone?) We used it for adult study at ULC and it was fabulous.

Second, and related, pastors from First Congregational Church in a great video (under 3 minutes) that gets to the truth of what the Bible says about how to treat immigrants:

Third, a provocative set of study topics -- "9 Phrases the Migrant Rights Movement Needs to Leave in 2015" -- from Latinos Rebels. (Who's ready to tackle this during Lent?)

Finally, here are a few related posts that I wrote in past years:

WELCOME MAT USA: Come in! Come in! (Get out! Get out!)
Wanna Fix the U.S.A? Welcome an Immigrant Today!

Please share these materials widely  . . . .