In many faith congregations and community organizations, there has been much recent discussion about the different strategies and tactics the Church can use to support undocumented people who are facing deportation.
LDI dreams of a Church that is responsive to the needs of those suffering under oppression and injustice. Parts of the Body of Christ are currently responding to oppression by standing in solidarity with those facing deportation.
On Monday, 3/27, LDI staff members Lydia Stand and Jesse Ortiz attended a rally in front of the JFK Federal Building in Boston. They protested the arrest and detention of Enrique (“Kike”) Balcazar, Zully Palacios, and Alex Carillo-Sanchez, three undocumented people who work for Migrant Justice, which aims “to build the voice, capacity, and power of the farmworker community and engage community partners to organize for economic justice and human rights.”
Local activists and organizers see the arrest of Kike, Zully, and Alex as an attack on movements working to empower the undocumented community. Their attorney Matt Cameron agrees. According to WBUR, Cameron said, "They've been the target for some time of surveillance and targeting, and we know that they were the targets...There's nothing about Enrique that would set him apart other than outspoken advocacy for his community."
Inspired by LDI's core value of Taking Action, Lydia and Jesse answered the request from Migrant Justice for allies to attend last month's protest. Lydia and Jesse are connected to Movimiento Cosecha, “a nonviolent movement working to win permanent protection, dignity and respect for the 11 million undocumented people in this country.” Cosecha is led by undocumented people, and welcomes allies to support the movement in many different ways. On May 1, Cosecha is organizing "Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes," a strike of all undocumented people. In Boston, Cosecha will be holding a Festival on May 1st, and LDI encourages all people of faith to attend and remain connected to the Cosecha Movement.
The 3/27 trial resulted with Kike and Zully released on $2,500 bail, while Alex remains detained with no bail due to a previous DUI charge (although the state of Vermont has dropped those charges). The devastating result for Alex proves the continued need for people to resist unjust deportations.
Within faith communities, the most publicized tactic against deportation has been the Sanctuary Network. In Massachusetts, Massachusetts Community Action Network (MCAN, part of the national network PICO), has educated congregations on offering sanctuary to undocumented people. LDI applauds MCAN and PICO’s invaluable work.
The media has recognized how communities of faith are working to support people at risk of deportation. In an excellent podcast episode from March 29, NPR’s Code Switch featured a story about Jeanette Vizguerra, who is living inside a Colorado church as she fights a legal deportation battle.
While Jeanette is grateful for the support, she brings up valid concerns that may be familiar to those who’ve spent time working in churches.
Jeanette says, “Every Sunday there is a meeting of the church’s immigration committee. And a lot of the times it’s like they want to ignore my decisions. They will want the coalition coordinator to be present before deciding on something, and so I have to say, ‘The coordinator is just that, the coordinator...we the people who are affected, we make the decision, no one else.”
In this quote, Jeanette reminds people of faith to center the needs of people experiencing oppression. She also speaks to the questioning, evaluation, and sacrifice necessary to join a movement of reconciliation. She says, “This new sanctuary movement is just that, new. And we are all doing work at the same time that we are learning how to do it. We need to make sure not to do things with the intention of helping someone that actually ends up harming.”
How does your faith community remain committed to supporting the needs of other people? To quote, LDI’s values, we hope that leaders in the church “remain prayerful throughout action so that their work responds openly to shifting realities, rather than adhering to a rigid plan or individual ideals.” Will we be able to choose tactics that help meet the needs of a specific person or community? LDI believes that, through dedication to inward and outward reconciliation, leaders can equip themselves to build communities that to move us towards God’s radical vision of love.