We Oppose Criminalizing Immigrants
Faith in Action is a network congregations and faith-based groups that believe all people are made in the image of our creator and, therefore, are entitled to love and respect.
Our immigrant justice program, LA RED, is pushing for citizenship, and more, for an estimated 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. As the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the U.S., we recognize that a large portion of our families are of mixed-status. Nearly three quarters of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, also known as Dreamers, have children or spouses who are U.S. citizens.
The DACA program provided young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children with relief from deportation and a temporary work authorization. In September 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the program would be rescinded after a six-month delay.
LA RED believes all immigrants deserve true liberation, action from all levels of government, respect, equity of laws that ensure fair and proportional application and dignity. The purpose of LA RED is to assure all persons, specifically undocumented immigrants, are able to take part in the full promise of democracy.
LA RED’s Theory of Change recognizes that in the next three years, we must continue to resist at the local and national levels mass deportation. Resistance, however, must also include participating in political change, starting with midterm elections in 2018.
Militarization at Border Not an Option
Instead of taking steps to resolve key policy disputes over immigration regulations such as DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), most Republicans and some Democrats continue to back spending bills that support militarization of the U.S. border. This militarization generally can range from increasing the number of border patrol agents to adding more immigration detention beds. (TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to people in the U.S. from designated countries facing humanitarian crisis, including armed conflict, disaster, or other critical situations.)
Militarization policies jeopardize the lives, and livelihoods, of even more immigrants, the majority of whom are Latino and Black and already living with the heightened terror of being torn from their families and homes.
In 2017 and 2018, for example, the Trump administration terminated TPS for four countries:
- El Salvador (200,000 people become deportable effective Sept. 9, 2019);
- Haiti (50,000 become deportable on July 22, 2019);
- Nicaragua (2,550 become deportable effective Jan. 5, 2019); and
- Sudan (1,040 become deportable on Nov. 2, 2018).
Jorge Taborda and Martha Lorena Rivera, both undocumented immigrants, are prime examples of how current immigration policies are tearing families apart, and forcing many to live in the shadows.
They separately received sanctuary in 2017 at the Holy Cross Retreat Center in Las Cruces, N.M. Holy Cross focuses on Catholic spirituality but welcomes people of all faiths. (Faith in Action, formerly PICO National Network, provided funding for journalists at Think Progress to travel to Las Cruces in late 2017 to document the stories of Taborda and Rivera about what it’s like to live in a constant state of fear involving the threat of deportation.)
ICE Actions Inhumane
Taborda, a husband and father of two sons, immigrated to the United States in 1998 to avoid persecution in Colombia. In early 2017, he sought sanctuary at Holy Cross after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained his wife as she traveled to work. They threatened to deport her if he did not turn himself in to ICE. Subsequently, she was deported to Colombia.
When undercover agents attempted to deport Taborda by acting on a final deportation order, a federal enforcement action, he drove to a Roman Catholic Church in Las Cruces. The agents stopped pursuing him when he reached the church’s property. Subsequently, a local immigrant advocacy group drove Taborda to the retreat center, where he remains.
Rivera, an immigrant from Mexico and mother of three children, sought sanctuary at Holy Cross after opting not to turn herself over to the U.S. government for deportation. Although she had checked in annually with the ICE agency to receive a stay of removal, in late 2017 the agency ordered her to surrender for deportation to Mexico. Instead, Rivera sought and received sanctuary at Holy Cross, where she also remains.
Guarantee Rights to All U.S. Residents
LA RED supports local, state and national policies that guarantee all U.S. residents—regardless of their immigration status—the right to affordable housing, a driver’s license, a living wage, and equal access to health care and education.
It opposes any collaboration between local law enforcement agencies and ICE officials that disproportionately criminalize immigrants, specifically undocumented immigrants, and that detain or deport them. These policies unfairly drive undocumented immigrants into the shadows, and aggravate the challenges many of them already are facing. These policies also have a disproportionate impact on Latino and Black immigrants—from Massachusetts, where Faith in Action-affiliated advocates are working to protect Dominicans, Guatemalans, Mexicans and Brazilians, to California, home to the largest number of Latinos facing deportation threats from the Trump administration.
We are lobbying for Republicans and Democrats in Congress to take the first step to address this growing crisis for immigrant individuals and families by providing permanent protection for DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers. Our position is that Democrats must support a “clean” DREAM Act by refusing to support any deals with Republicans that continue to fund deportation instead of protecting Dreamers and other immigrants from all forms or militarization.
Family Unity Vital
We oppose criminalizing immigrants. The bedrock of any immigration legislation must emphasize family unity and reject the expansion of border-related enforcement, detention, and security. LA RED supports comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) policies that would allow all undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
We also support the expansion of immigration programs to include the parents of DACA recipients, and workers who otherwise aren’t eligible for administrative relief.