Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, IIC, and Partners Deliver over 300,000 Signatures to ICE Demanding Release of Families

July 29, 2020

Washington, DC: Earlier today, Representative Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) joined representatives from over 15 other national faith-based and immigrants’ rights groups to deliver over 300,000 petition signatures demanding ICE release the families in its detention centers without the threat of family separation. The signatures were collected by Amnesty International USA, Families Belong Together, and Moms Rising.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia joined at the outset of the event before she had to leave for the funeral of the late civil-rights icon and Representative John Lewis. She said: “Families belong together. Children do not belong in cages. I don’t understand why this Administration can’t just follow the law. The court said to release the children, but we don’t want them released separately from their parents and we don’t want the parents to have to decide whether they should stay with their children or let their children be released and be separated. That is not fair for families because families belong together.

I have been to about a dozen centers in Texas, and one of the ICE employees that was [recently] touring us around tested positive for the virus. If they can’t take care of members of Congress from getting exposed when we visit a facility, do you think they are taking care of the children and mothers? Of course not. Imagine the trauma they must be going through knowing that they don’t have the masks, that they don’t have sanitizer, knowing that they aren’t socially distanced. …. We have to keep going until we shut them all down and all the children are released.” Rep. Sylvia Garcia (TX-29)

“I am an immigrant from Cameroon. I came to the U.S. in 2017 and was detained for 11 months. It was really degrading, it was torture, it was mental slavery. We are all humans. We are not animals. Now is the time to bring our little lights together and create our own sun.” Emmanuel, a Cameroonian immigrant connected with Haitian Bridge Alliance, who was formerly detained at Berks County Residential Center in Leesport, PA.

“On this historic day when we remember John Lewis’ encouragement to ‘never be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble,’ we commit to not be quiet until ICE does what is moral and completely in their power to do; free the children together with their parents. With detention centers on fire with COVID, we urge ICE to be a spark of hope and good, by allowing the families to be released to the support of families and congregations waiting to receive and welcome them.” Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director, Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries

“When a young St. Francis was told by God to ‘rebuild my church’ he soon realized that it was not the physical church that needed rebuilding, but instead, the hearts of those who called themselves Christians.  Just like during the time of St. Francis, we are once again at a crossroads. The administration claims to be Christian, but by keeping families detained and only allowing the release of the children if the families are separated, shows that the administration needs to look deep within their hearts, too. As Franciscans, we demand that immigrant families in detention be released together. We say: Release the Children! Families Belong Together!” Jason Miller, Director of Campaigns and Development, Franciscan Action Network

“These children are innocent pawns in a cruel game played by authorities whose sole purpose is the deportation of immigrants out of the United States regardless of the dangers which await them back in their home nation… We can do better.  We can be better.” Susan Krehbiel, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

“Saint John Paul II reminds us that, ‘the family is the sanctuary of life, a domestic Church where we receive our formative ideas about truth and goodness, where we learn to be truly human. Family is at the heart of the culture of life.’ Separating children from their parents, subjecting them to grave physical and emotional harm is dehumanizing, callous, and a part of the culture of death. ICE, choose life, release from your custody the immigrant children together with their parents.” Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM

Co-sponsors: American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International USA, Church World Service, Congregation Action Network, Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries, Doctors for Camp Closure, Families Belong Together, Franciscan Action Network, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Justice for Muslims Collective, Leadership Conference Women Religious, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, National Council Jewish Women, Presbyterian Church USA, Project Lifeline, Sojourners

View the event live stream here. Still images are available here.

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is made up of 55 national, faith-based organizations brought together across many theological traditions with a common call to seek just policies that lift up the God-given dignity of every individual. In partnership, we work to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of all refugees and migrants. 

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by Bilal Askaryar|Published July 27, 2020