(WASHINGTON, DC)—More than 100 immigrant rights activists were arrested today in front of the White House demanding that President Obama act immediately to enact broad administrative relief that will positively impact all undocumented immigrants. Today’s action, where more than 130 people were arrested, is one of the largest number of immigrant-supporters ever arrested for a civil disobedience action in front of the White House.
Prior to the civil disobedience, thousands of people marched nearly two miles from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters to the White House. The action in Washington was among 20 “National Day of Action” events held nationwide today calling on President Obama to use executive action now to stop separating families.
“Taking action through civil disobedience is one small measure to stop the suffering of immigrant families facing separation through deportation, and the suffering of the neighbors, friends, coworkers and co-congregants that love them,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland and CASA de Virginia. “Today, on this national day to fight for families, we call on President Obama to do everything in his power to enact humane and compassionate administrative relief that will end our suffering.”
Joining Mr. Torres in committing civil disobedience were: Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America; Terry O’Neil President of National Organization for Women; Ana Garcia-Ashley, Executive Director of the Gamaliel Network; Maryland Elected Officials including Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez and Delegates-Elect Marice Morales and David Moon; Carrie Evans, Executive Director of Equality Maryland; Michael P. Scott, Executive Director of Equity Mattersl; Jane Henderson, Executive Director of Communities United; and many more from unions and organizations including UFCW Local 400, the Mid-Atlantic Laborers; the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum; Working Families; the Latin American Coalition of North Carolina; NAKASEC; Make the Road New York; the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, and; the Center for Community Change. Arrestees included faith leaders and other faith activists as well as more than 90 CASA leaders, many undocumented, and staff.
Albertina Oceguera, an undocumented mom with children born in the United States and activist member of CASA’s Baltimore committee, was one of those arrested.
“We came to this country for a better life and me being arrested is just a small sacrifice on my part to tell President Obama that he must act now to help our families,” Oceguera said. “My children, like all children, are precious and they should not have to live in fear of their mother being deported.”
Advocates are calling on Obama to grant the broadest administrative relief possible, including: the cancelation of enforcement policies like Secure Communities that have created enormous fear in local communities; granting visas to undocumented parents who have children living in the U.S.; ceasing the deportation of children crossing the border escaping violence in Central America, and’ providing relief to immigrant workers, including those that challenge harsh workplace conditions.
“The fear of deportation is a significant challenge. Today, I was arrested at the White House to demand that our President do what must be in his heart, keeping at least some of these families united, sending a message that regardless of race or national origin this remains a nation of the American dream,” said Larry Cohen, President of Communications Workers of America.
Arrestees also focused on the priority of family and contributions of immigrants to building our community.
“Every day, women take risks so their children can grow up safely; they work so that their families will have food on the table; they take care of the young and the old; they open businesses and work hard to make a better life,” said Terry O’Neill, President of NOW. “It is time to value and reward this hard work and sacrifice.”
Advocates have also called upon all Democrats to stand up for bold and immediate administrative relief.
“To those who have suggested that immigrant families should wait for administrative relief until after the midterm elections, we remind you that with every passing day our communities continue to suffer under a broken and dysfunctional immigration system,” said Kica Matos, spokesperson for FIRM. “Our movement will not stop until there is relief for the 11 million aspiring Americans yearning to come out of the shadows and into the sun.”
Hosted by CASA de Maryland & CASA de Virginia, endorsing organizations included: the AFL-CIO; Alliance for Citizenship; the Black Institute; CARECEN; Causa Oregon; Center for Popular Democracy; El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos de New Mexico; Church World Service; the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA); Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach; Communications Workers of America; Conference of Major Superiors of Men; Dreamer Moms USA; Equality Maryland; Equity Matters; Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc. (Haitian Women of Miami); Farmworker Justice Fund; FIRM; Florida Immigrant Coalition; Franciscan Action Network; Frederick Immigration Coalition; Gamaliel; Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Jews United for Justice; Make the Road New York; Maryland Communities United; Maryland NOW; Maryland Working Families; Maryland Young Democrats; Mid-Atlantic Laborers; National Domestic Worker Alliance; NDLON; PICO National Network; Promise Arizona; Sisters of Mercy; Refugee & Immigration Ministries Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition; UFCW Local 40; UNITE HERE; United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries; Virginia Organizing; Voces de la Frontera of Wisconsin; We Belong Together; Latin American Coalition; NAKASEC, and; NAPAWF.
I am writing you all because of previous connections regarding the work of Refugee & Immigration Ministries office, and particularly to ask for your prayer support for immigrant families in this especially crucial time–as we await, we are hoping soon, an announcement from the President about the level of support for temporary immigration changes he is able legally to make–in light of the lack of legislative action this year on immigration reform.
TOMORROW, Thursday, I will be grateful to stand among hundreds at the White House in mid-day who will take this opportune moment to express support for broad administrative action to end family suffering and unjust deportations. We’ve received special notice that leaders of what is slated to be the LARGEST and likely FINAL opportunity this summer to publicly express our strong desire for President Obama to use his executive authority to provide broad deportation relief to millions of workers, parents, and children are seeking additional faith participants in the immigration civil disobedience happening this coming Thursday at the White House.
Primary organizers for this event are Casa de Maryland, Casa de Virginia, and Center for Community Change, along with FIRM and many others–GREAT local partners who provided amazing community turnout for our July 31st faith leader action!
Should you wish to join in this civil disobedience action–please know I would be most grateful to stand beside you in this experience–and come and join us at 10 a.m. at: 9th and Maine, SW in DC. (Call me before, and I can be sure you have full information for preparations!) There is an on-line link for registration, at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/August28Arrests–OR you can register there on site at 10 a.m., if you wish. Be sure to bring the $50 cash required for the “post and release” amount due to get out!
If you’d like to be present as a supporter, I invite you to come either to the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Headquarters, 500 12th Street, SW, at 11:30 a.m. to join in a rally–or to go directly to Lafayette Park (i.e. the uphill side of the White House). The group will then rally in front of the White House at about 12:30, with anticipation of the arrests happening between 1-2. It is anticipated (though no one ever knows!) that all releases will be complete no later than 8 p.m., and likely much earlier.
As always, a truly meaningful support is any PRAYER support you can offer–not especially for me, but for THE FAMILIES that are impacted each day as 1,100 are deported, and millions more live in fear that their own families may be separated tomorrow, or next week, or next month.
THANK YOU for our solidarity in faith–and please consider kicking off a meaningful Labor Day Weekend by using your high tech fingers to post for immigrant rights to: #pray4relief (to share your own faith values around keeping families together), support the event through the Digital Action Guide suggestions at: http://www.stopseparatingfamilies.org/fightforfamilies/, or go to the following sites: www.stopseparatingfamilies.org or www.allinfor11million.com.
Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director
Refugee & Immigration Ministries
By Charles A. Hickman
Zammaripa is a community leader who has a passion for God and the scriptures.
“God sent us to plant the seeds,” she explains. “And we have to let God do the work.”
Zammapira has planted seeds by working in her community since 1987, teaching school, then teaching English and helping people find jobs. She now works for the State of Alabama aiding children with disabilities and their parents, translating in courts and assisting social workers.
She joined 111 other faith leaders in Washington D.C. on July 31 in calling for changes in immigration laws, specifically deportations that divide families or send children fleeing violence back into harm’s way. She was accompanied on her journey by her 16 year old protégé who is learning to speak up for the voiceless.
At least 14 Disciples made the trip to the nation’s capital. Civil disobedience participants included Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Disciples Home Missions’ Refugee and Immigration Ministries director; Rev. Lyndon Rogers, Texas; Rev. Hector Hernandez, Indiana; and Zamarippa. These individuals stood or sat on the sidewalk outside the White House, a violation of the rules for demonstrations there.
According to the ABC News blog, it was an unusually large number for a protest of its kind. Supporters who remained across the street in Lafayette Park included Rev. Katie Russell, Rev. Monte Hillis, Rev. Kathleen Kline-Moore, Capital Area Regional Minister Rev. Bob Perry, Rev. Beverly Goines, a group of layleaders and two youth.
Other organizations participating included United Methodist’s Justice Ministries, Church World Service, Unitarian Universalist, Roman Catholic, and the immigration group Casa de Maryland. An estimated 500 people participated.
Please go to: https://krcla.ourpowerbase.net/english/skin/irp-petition-2014 and join this national postcard campaign to sign this online petition, led by Korean youth and adults through NAKASEC, KRC, and CRCC, to ask President Obama to Stand with Families, Act Bold, and Act Now to EXPAND DEFERRED ACTION, STOP DEPORTATIONS, AND PROTECT MIGRANT CHILDREN!!
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