• Tell the Obama Administration: Stop the Deportation of Asylum Seekers Hilda Ramirez and her son Ivan
    Hilda Ramirez is an asylum seeker in danger of deportation to a country where her family will be subjected to violence, discrimination, and extreme poverty. A 28-year-old Mayan mother from San Marcos, Guatemala, Hilda fled to the United States with her 9-year-old son Ivan after facing threats of violence. Arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014 hoping to find safety, she was instead detained at the border and jailed at the Karnes detention center with her son in inhumane conditions for 11 months. There, Hilda participated in a courageous hunger strike with another 77 immigrant moms to shut down family detention centers.1 Hilda was eventually released on bond and forced to wear an ankle bracelet. After several months of staying in an Austin shelter for immigrants, the danger of impending ICE raids became overwhelming, leading Hilda and Ivan to seek Sanctuary in St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas while she fights deportation orders for herself and her young son. Although she was previously unable to win her asylum case, she continues to appeal her case with the assistance of legal counsel. After the recent decision from the Obama administration to target Central American asylum seekers for immigration raids and deportation, many immigrant communities have been left in a state of fear. As a result, many families and individuals in danger of losing their lives and loved ones are looking for safe haven and support with legal services. Already, more than 120 people have been apprehended in the raids, 77 people immediately deported, including parents with U.S. citizen children.2 Another round of raids has been announced, but no one knows where or when they will happen. OUR VALUES Families like Hilda and her son should not be targeted by immoral and unjust ICE raids. They should be provided the safety they seek, not met with further violence and discrimination. With continued raids announced, it is more important than ever that we stand with Hilda, Ivan, and all our immigrant brothers and sisters living in danger of deportation and separation. On February 9th, 2016, Hilda and Ivan took the prophetic and courageous step to enter into Sanctuary at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. Hilda explains that, "I feel safe here. I don't think immigration agents will break down the door and take me away. That is why I came here." Sanctuary is a place where God’s love and protection is a living reality. Our faith demands that we treat refugees as neighbors. Our faith demands that we open our doors, even when others are shutting theirs. As people of faith and people of moral courage, we cannot stand idle in midst of the inhumanity of raids, deportation and detention. We must be in solidarity with Hilda, Ivan and our immigrant neighbors who are facing similar situations where a deportation could have fatal consequences when returned to their countries of origin. All families are sacred and each individual deserves justice, dignity and hospitality, regardless of their immigration status. TAKE ACTION By signing this petition, you are taking action to stand in solidarity with Hilda and Ivan, and all people suffering because of the United States’ inhumane mass deportation system. Your support of immigrants and refugees as a person of faith or a person of moral courage can help us put pressure on the Obama administration to use their power to end unjust and inhumane raids and deportations. Watch the video of our press conference at St. Andrews Church: https://vimeo.com/154776260 [1] "Mothers held at Texas detention centre go on hunger strike to demand release," The Guardian. April 1, 2015. [2] "U.S. authorities begin raids, taking 121 illegal immigrants into custody over the weekend," The Washington Post. Jan. 4, 2016.
    3,762 of 4,000 Signatures
    Created by Rev. Jim Rigby
  • Tell the Obama Administration: Stop the Raids on Central American Refugees
    On January 2, the Department of Homeland Security began to raid homes of Central American mothers and children who entered the United States seeking asylum in states across the country. ICE officers showed up at their doors unannounced, deceiving them to gain entry, waking up sleeping children, and taking away the families to detention centers, where mothers and children will spend months jailed until they are deported back to the dangerous situations they fled. Raids are a traumatizing experience, especially for those already suffering from the distress of rape, murder, domestic violence, and deadly poverty in the countries they have fled. These raids are being used as scare tactics against the immigrant community — resulting in fear of being separated from their families, fear that keeps mothers from sending their children to school, fear that keeps workers from returning to much-needed jobs, fear that has a domino effect on all of our communities. What is happening to our brothers and sisters in Central America is a humanitarian crisis, and must be met with a compassionate response that integrates respect for human rights, finds and heals the root causes of migration, and provides safe haven for the families and individuals in need of safety and compassion. OUR VALUES Faith communities have a long-standing history of providing sanctuary and accompaniment for our immigrant brothers and sisters. Back in the 1980s when Central Americans were fleeing the horrific violence of civil war, they came to our country seeking asylum but were met with deportation orders and were sent back to the death squads they sought to escape. And so communities of faith did the only thing we could: We formed an underground railroad and declared sanctuary for Central American refugees. During the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s, over 400 congregations were involved and thousands of refugees were protected from deportation. Leaders in this movement ended up suing the U.S. government for failing to follow their own asylum laws — and they won. The U.S. government agreed to stop all deportations to Central America, granted refugees from these areas temporary protected status, and reformed their refugee law. More than 30 years later we find ourselves in the same situation with the U.S. government once again violating their own asylum law and international human rights standards. And once again we feel as if we have no choice but to do everything we can to resist these recent actions by the Department of Homeland Security targeting asylum seekers for deportation, because once again, human lives are on the line. Last year, the Sanctuary Movement was rebirthed at Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, and over 300 congregations and synagogues joined them in a pledge to protect mothers, fathers, and individuals with the courage to defy the deportation orders threatening to separate them from their families and communities. Every day we are talking to a new congregation who wants to get involved and every day we are hearing of a new family devastated — that’s why we’re asking the Obama Administration to stop the raids and deportations now! The movement will continue to grow stronger until there is not one more family living in fear of deportation.
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  • Tell Politicians: Refugees fleeing violence need help, not hate
    As people from diverse religious traditions we are united in the core value of welcoming the sojourner and loving our neighbors. Just as the Israelites wandered through the desert to escape slavery in Egypt, and as Mary and Joseph traveled from place to place before finding a stable in the inn for the birth of Jesus, today’s refugees face similar struggles. We must stop conflating terrorism with Islam; the form of violent extremism practiced by ISIS is not part of the Muslim tradition. Islam is a religion that promotes peace, not violence. As the Qur’an reads, “Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind…” Qur’an 5:32 The United States has a proud history of resettling refugees of all faiths. Keeping Syrian refugees out of this country based on their nationality or religion sends the wrong message to the rest of the world about who we are as Americans and dishonors our historic legacy of welcoming. We are a welcoming country with a religiously diverse society and our resettlement program must continue to reflect this. To not do so only feeds into ISIS’ propaganda and makes us all less safe. To be clear, the U.S. process for admitting refugees prioritizes security concerns. The United States handpicks the refugees who resettle here, going through multiple layers of security checks and making them the most thoroughly vetted group of people to enter the United States. Security screenings are rigorous and involve the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense and multiple other intelligence agencies. However, despite the proven safety of the U.S. resettlement program, more than half of U.S. Governors have signaled they would like to refuse entry to Syrians. It is important to recognize that states cannot unilaterally block resettlement -- governors do not have the legal authority to determine who lives in their states. Syrian refugees are legally admitted to the United States and therefore have the right to move freely throughout the country. To stop someone from entering a state due to their nationality is an attack on fundamental rights that we as Americans hold true and is against everything that we stand for as a nation of immigrants proud of our history of welcoming. We reject the notion that our country or state can exclude certain refugees based on nationality or religion and ask our Governor and our Congresspersons to welcome all refugees including Syrians as they desperately flee violent persecution.
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    Created by Jen Smyers
  • Dear Presidential Candidates: #WeMakeAmericaGreat
    As people of faith and moral courage, we believe all people are part of one family, and that we need to act together to build a world that respects everyone’s dignity. We reject the messages of candidates whose platforms, language, and campaigning exclude, discriminate against, and perpetuate violence towards members of our communities because of their citizenship status, gender, race, or sexuality. Many 2016 presidential candidates have chosen to build their campaigns on fear. Their use of xenophobic, racist and derogatory language has activated nationalist and white-supremacist groups throughout the country, inspiring further hate speech and violent hate crimes against immigrants and people of color. More so-called “moderate” presidential hopefuls have failed to stand up against these dangerous ideas. Some have defended the racist term “anchor babies” to describe infants born to undocumented parents, recommended we track immigrants like FedEx packages, and suggested we send air-strike drones to the U.S.-Mexico border. Our Values As people of faith and moral courage, we are called to welcome the sojourner and love our neighbor. We are appalled by the ugly, divisive, and cowardly tactics from candidates running for the most powerful office in our country. The United States was founded on the moral principles of liberty and justice for which civil rights leaders have struggled to make a reality for generations. We can’t move backwards to policies that resurface segregation. Instead we must move forward, with moral principles that value the diversity of all people and make America great. This includes immigrants, both new and established, and a range of identities in gender, faith, sexuality, race, and ethnicity that enrich our communities and strengthen the values we hold as people of faith and people of good conscious. Our vision of a better and more just world means calling on all political leaders to recognize the inherent value of all people, regardless of citizenship status, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. Please sign this petition if you are ready to dump the divisive language and policy proposals pushed by extremist candidates, so that together, we can make America great!
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    Created by Rev. Noel Andersen
  • Tell Goff Public: Stop Promoting For-Profit Prisons
    The mass incarceration of vulnerable people in our country is a profound injustice and must stop. Jesus taught his disciples to pray: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive the debts of others." (Matthew 6:12) Minnesota has the second lowest prison population in the nation, yet has the second highest growth in incarceration rate. As a result of this trend, our prison population is overcapacity and state officials are considering investment requests to open a new private prison facility in Appleton. Our current prison system in Minnesota unjustly and disparately impacts people of color. African Americans make up 35% of prisoners despite being just 6% of the state’s population. Rather than working to heal this racialized injustice and invest in reforms to keep people out of prisons, Swift County has hired Goff Public to promote the opening of a for-profit prison owned by Corrections Corporations of America (CCA) - the largest and oldest private prison owner and operator in the U.S. which has extracted nearly $1 billion in profits over the past 5 years. CCA’s prisons have been dogged by allegations of maltreatment, neglect, and abuse. As just one heinous example, just this past July in Texas, 250 immigrant children were given the wrong dose of vaccine in a CCA facility. This dehumanizing prison system which profits off incarceration of human beings is a deep and profound violation of the sanctity of human life. Minnesota can do better; Goff Public can do better; we can do better than solve the prison overcapacity problem by simply building more prisons, especially prisons making a profit off the vulnerable in our society. Minnesota has no place for a company like CCA, or any company that seeks to profit off incarceration. Therefore as people of faith, we call Goff Public to cease and desist their efforts to promote the CCA facility in Appleton MN, or any for-profit incarceration enterprise.
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    Created by ISAIAH Minnesota Picture
  • Pope Francis: America needs your faithful message of care for the Earth
    Pope Francis, your first visit to America comes at a critical time. As you have powerfully stated, many people, including some “committed and prayerful Christians,” tend to “ridicule expressions of concern for the environment,” while “others are passive.” Many of the same people, including candidates for our presidency and elected officials, are stirring old embers of racial and religious prejudice and fear in an effort to get attention and votes. When we, as Americans of many faiths, think of our children and grandchildren, we feel the urgency of this moment even more, because, as you say, “the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.” We affirm that the cries of pain we feel are interconnected - from the demonization of immigrants, to racial animus, to economic inequality, to ecological destruction -- and we hope that your visit can help ignite a moral (r)evolution that shows us a better path. Multi-faith leaders are developing a plan to help congregations around the country translate your call into action, and we will gather to announce that plan at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, the same day you address Congress. Many others are hosting vigils and prayer services to welcome your message of hope and inclusion. Thank you for your visit, Pope Francis. May God guide and empower you to speak the truth to those in power.
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  • Tell ICE: Stop Deportation of Jewish Homeschooling Family
    No mother should be forced to flee her homeland in order to homeschool her children because of anti-semitic bullying. Yet, Petra Albrecht was not free in Germany to homeschool her children because Germany’s outdated laws have banned homeschooling since World War I. German families who choose to homeschool their children face legal action, including prison, the loss of custody of their children and fines. Petra had chosen to homeschool her youngest child Jayson because he was experiencing anti-Semitic bullying in school, in a country where a least one-fourth of the population remains openly anti-Semitic even post World War II. She lost her parental rights and was forced to flee to the U.S. But here the family has come across more hardship. Petra and Nicole were picked up by Immigration Enforcement and have been in U.S. immigration detention for 11 months, in separate facilities. Jayson was sent back to Germany alone, and is being held in an orphanage in or near Berlin, though he had an open asylum case. The German government refuses to tell the family his exact whereabouts, and the U.S. government refuses to release Petra and Nicole. OUR VALUES To be Jewish is to be an immigrant. The Albrecht family continues a history of Jewish migration that reaches back to the Old Testament and our exodus from Egypt – stories we retell on holy days. That’s why one of Judaism’s central teachings is to “welcome the stranger” as you would a friend. We’re calling on all people of faith and moral courage to stand with Petra, a mother separated from her children, and demand immigration enforcement officials release and reunite her with Jayson and Nicole. In his last letter to his family before being extradited to Germany, Jayson wrote, "I promise you that we will be together again soon..."
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    Created by Christina Fialho of CIVIC Picture
  • Stop Darlin from being deported! Pare la deportacion de Darlin!
    Darlin's wife and children need him home in Philadelphia. His wife Juana has a severe heart problem that requires open heart surgery and cannot work. Darlin's emotional and economic support for his family - all of whom are citizens - is critical. Darlin is part of the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia community, and we all want him in Philadelphia where he belongs. Darlin is supported by New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia and the Congress of Day Laborers/New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice. If he is deported, Darlin's wife and children cannot return to Honduras to live with him because of his wife's severe health condition. The government support the family receives because of his wife's medical conditions is not enough to meet the financial needs of the family. Darlin was involved in a fight and served a 12-month sentence for a misdemeanor charge in a Philadelphia jail. We believe that Darlin already paid for his crime and to deport him back to Honduras not only is a double punishment, but further punishes his family. We believe in second chances for all people and that Darlin has already repented personally and through the criminal justice system. Further punishment goes against our faith values and will only cause more suffering. Darlin is a loving father and husband who has the support of the Philadelphia community. Please stop his deportation!
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    Created by Nicole Kligerman
  • Tell Senator Mark Kirk: Protect migrant child refugees fleeing violence and poverty
    Imagine you are a child seeking relief from violence and extreme poverty. You’ve left the only home you’ve ever known. You make it to America. You are tired, hungry, and disoriented. What happens next? Thank God you are covered by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which says you must be transferred into the care and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within a period of 72 hours. It also protects your basic rights to due process and ensures that you have a day in court to share your story. For migrant children from Mexico, who have not been granted the same protections under TVPRA, their arrival marks the beginning of another series of traumas. In a short span of hours, these children are “screened” by inexperienced border patrol agents, who decide whether or not the child deserves to stay. Kids as young as 5 years old are expected to coherently describe the violence and abuse they have experienced to these agents, who look just like the corrupt and violent police authorities they saw at home. Studies [1,2] reveal that 96% of Mexican children are summarily deported to the countries they escaped, despite many of them having legitimate claims or basis for relief. If the TVPRA is rolled back, this could be the plight of ALL migrant child refugees looking for safety and relief at our borders. As the situation of Mexican children shows, we cannot afford to rollback the TVPRA! OUR VALUES We at the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) are part of the Unaccompanied Children’s Interfaith Ministry of Chicago. We witness the children’s stories, prayers, and dreams, and are compelled to protect them. Our scriptures command us to care for widows and orphans and we are driven by the demands of our faith to protect our neighbors in need, especially the little ones. Our values are also backed by international policy: The U.S. is required to provide protections and due process to refugees who are arriving at our borders, especially when they are children. Our representatives need to be reminded: Without the TVPRA, the U.S. will be endangering the safety of refugee migrant children and will be in grave violation of international conventions. TAKE ACTION This year, fewer children are expected to arrive in search of refuge, but the TVPRA remains under attack. This is unacceptable. Senator Mark Kirk has shown tremendous leadership in human rights issues before. Most recently, he co-formed the Senate Human Rights Caucus. Ask Senator Mark Kirk to be a champion for unaccompanied children! Tell him: Stand by these children and oppose any efforts and provisions aimed at circumventing the TVPRA and the right of migrant refugee children to due process and safety. We must show compassion and love towards unaccompanied children. [1] https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/120214-expeditedremoval_0.pdf [2]http://americanimmigrationcouncil.org/sites/default/files/UNHCR_UAC_Monitoring_Report_Final_June_2014.pdf
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    Created by Lissette Castillo
  • Brooklyn College: Stop Defamation of Religion
    Pamela Geller is an infamous anti-Muslim zealot who instead of targeting extremists has made a career harassing mainstream Muslim Americans. Hatred against minority groups (Blacks, Gays, Jews and others) is increasingly unwelcome on campuses around the country. Unfortunately, Geller's organization, Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), was designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) but that does not stop New York's MTA and other mass transit systems from accepting her defamatory ads on trains and buses and platforms. Despite mass transit's reluctance to post all the ads because of the trouble they could incite or provoke, courts have forced MTA and SEPTA (in Philadelphia) to post Geller's ads because of their readings of 1st Amendment protections. Sad to say, Geller and her lawyers have distorted the principles of free speech by ranging far beyond political critique to outright lies designed to equate Islam (a religion of 1.2 billion people) with Nazism and with Savagery. This campaign has a harshly negative effect on Muslims living in New York and in other locations featuring her messaging. nor is it conducive to encouraging Muslims to work in partnership to confront the challenge we all face. Such anti-Muslim prejudice is often cited as a reason for the worsening cycle of violence abroad, perpetrated by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. For example, terrorist Anders Breivik referenced Geller's hate blog a dozen times in his manifesto before he killed more than 70 people in two attacks in Norway, seeking to justify his attacks. A clear link exists between anti-Muslim messaging and harassment. Students of Brooklyn college should be protected during this time and also hear a message of support from the President's Office. As an educational institution, Brooklyn College is a space for free debate but the school (its administration and the student community) should ensure a level of quality as well as accuracy of information. This can be accomplished through organizing debates on the claims and distortions made by Ms Geller and other Islamophobes; disseminating accurate information regarding diverse faith traditions, cultures and ethnic groups; and investigating any financial and social relationship between hate groups and the academic institution.
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  • Jeanette's Family Needs Her
    Jeanette Vizguerra, a Colorado community leader and mother, is facing deportation. Jeanette has led the fight against her own deportation since 2009, part of her secret to success is her die hard community. She needs it again, today! Share this and spread the word. Jeanette has lived in Colorado for twenty years, has 3 small children who are US citizens and has given selflessly as a community activist. She worked for SEIU as a labor organizer and volunteered with her children’s schools, the Aurora Neighborhood Watch Program, Rights for All People, the American Friends Service Committee and contributes to the Romero Troupe. She founded Dreamers Mothers in Action-Colorado. Jeanette has worked hard to build her community in Colorado and has inspired many with her courage and passion. Jeanette’s story exemplifies the brutality of our immigration system that is unjustly separating families and denying many the ability to live with dignity. Although this immigration system has tried to destroy Jeanette’s dignity, she is still fighting to be with her children and she needs our support!! History: Jeanette Vizguerra (A# 089-826-036), came to the US in 1997 with her husband and daughter. They fled after her husband, a bus driver, had been threatened at gun point for the third time. Jeanette worked cleaning office buildings and became a key member of her SEIU local, 105. Eventually she became an organizer, leading the fight for better pay and benefits for all janitors. She also joined a local advocacy group called Rights for All People as one of its founding members. She worked to establish trust and relationship between the immigrant community and the police. She and her husband started a moving and cleaning company and eventually had three more children, all US citizens. Jeanette’s case began in 2009 when she was pulled over for an expired license plate and then arrested for driving without a license (at that time Coloradans couldn't get a license if they couldn't prove status). That traffic stop led to a police officer discovering documents she was going to use to apply for a third job this discovery resulted in a misdemeanor. The economic downturn had impacted the moving company and her husband had taken ill so she was the only breadwinner for her family. In 2013, as she was awaiting an appeal in her case, she received a call from Mexico that her mother was dying. Despite 17 years in the US and thousands of miles, Jeanette and her mother spoke weekly. There are no humanitarian visas or programs available for those circumstances and Jeanette decided she had to be at her mother’s side before she died. She flew to Mexico the next day and, as she was in the air, her mother died. After 7 months of trying to build a life and send for her children, it became clear to Jeanette that at 40 she was too old to get good paying work in Mexico and decided to return to the US. She was detained at the border, and with the help of community, released back to Denver, where she has continued to pick up the threads of her life. This is why Jeanette needs your support. Sign and share this petition widely. http://www.groundswell-mvmt.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Jeanette.png
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    Created by Jordan Garcia
  • Tell President Obama: You left out the migrant children and families
    On November 20th, 2014 President Obama announced modifications to immigration policy, providing temporary relief from deportation to many undocumented Americans, recognizing the values of family unity and the inalienable human rights of our immigrant sisters and brothers. The President's relief action, however, has left out the most vulnerable population: Children and others who have fled terror and violence, seeking safety and protection with family members living here in the United States. This year we witnessed one of the largest refugee crises in the Western hemisphere, with 69,000 unaccompanied migrant children, half of whom are girls, arriving at the US border. They are primarily from four countries: Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. An equal number of adults, many traveling with their young children and families, also arrived this year. In every way, they are refugees. They are fleeing unspeakable violence and harm: death threats, rape, extortion by organized crime, and other forms of terror and violence. Honduras has the #1 murder rate in the world; El Salvador #4; Guatemala #5. Their governments either will not or cannot protect them from harm. Additionally, they have experienced terrible trauma on the perilous journey to the US border, often traveling on the tops of trains, overtaken by gangs and corrupt police forces. In every way, they are refugees; but the Obama administration is not treating them as refugees, but criminalizing them for seeking protection and safety. Instead of being housed by refugee agencies, they are arrested and detained in family immigration detention centers. See http://grassrootsleadership.org/facts-about-family-detention Instead of being welcomed and supported, our nation's resources are being used to deport them and send them back to danger. Their deportation cases are being expedited on "rocket dockets," forcing children and families to appear quickly in immigration court, in some cases with as little as one week or a few months. This gives impossibly little time to find an attorney and adequately prepare a viable aslyum case. Rocket dockets are compromising due process under national and international law. Immigrants are not provided attorneys, and many are unable to obtain or hire an affordable attorney in such a short time. 70% of migrant children cannot afford an attorney. Without an attorney, children as young as 2 years old, would be required to represent themselves before an immigration judge. 9 out of 10 children without attorneys will be deported. Asylum laws are outdated and do not adequately protect people fleeing from the kind of harm currently facing people from Mexico and Central America, such as persecution by organized crime, gangs, and narco traffickers. WHAT PRESIDENT OBAMA MUST DO: We are a nation that believes in providing safe haven for those facing persecution and threats to life. Pope Francis declared on July 15, 2014 “This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected." And that these measures “must be accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin.” The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) Senior Protection Officer, Leslie Velez, testified before the United States Congressional House Judiciary Committee, June 25, 2014, that the children require international protection. As people of faith and people of conscience, we see all children as our children. We believe that all children must be ensured international protection and be treated with dignity and respect. We believe we are called to care for all children, as if they were our own. President Obama just protected up to 5 million immigrants. Surely he can do the same for approximately 120,000 Central American and Mexican children, individuals and families who should be considered refugees and kept safe from harm. Some of us are Sanctuary congregations, joining together with other People of Conscience. We will not allow these child and refugee families to be sent back. If our government will not protect children, we, Sanctuary and people of conscience, will. Petition Co-Sponsoring Organizations: University Lutheran Chapel - Berkeley, The East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition, Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights- CLUE,
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    Created by Deborah Lee