5,000 signatures reached
To: President Obama, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, ICE Director Sarah Saldana
Tell the Obama Administration: Stop the Raids on Central American Refugees
As people of faith and moral conscience, we are outraged by the Obama administration’s violation of human rights by using raids as a scare tactic against the immigrant community and deporting thousands of Central American refugees who entered the United States seeking asylum. We urge President Obama and his administration to respond to this crisis with moral courage: To stop the raids, provide legal counsel to immigrants and asylum seekers, close family detention centers where mothers and children are inhumanely held before deportation, and increase humanitarian aid to address the root causes of migration from Central America. In the tradition of Sanctuary, we pledge to resist these violations of human rights by offering up our voices, actions, and bodies to protect and stand with our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters.
Why is this important?
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.
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.