News & Media

Faith and Community Leaders Demand End to ICE Terrorization of Immigrant Communities

PICO National Network

February 15, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  February 15, 2017

CONTACT: Jennifer R. Farmer, 202-306-0136jfarmer@piconetwork.org


Faith and Community Leaders Demand End to ICE Terrorization of Immigrant Communities 

WASHINGTON – Following a dramatic increase in raids led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), leaders from PICO National Network, the nation’s largest faith-based grassroots organization, today called for an end to the terrorization of immigrant communities. The indiscriminate raids, which have detained more than 680 people since early February, coupled with President Trump’s recent executive orders targeting religious minorities and undocumented immigrants, have ignited widespread concern and panic in communities across the country.

"The administration is being duplicitous,” said Eddie Carmona, campaign director for PICO National Network’s LA RED campaign, which works to achieve fair immigration policies. “On the one hand, President Trump says the raids are part of a campaign promise to deport 2-3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records. There is no evidence supporting the assertion that there are 2-3 million immigrants with criminal records. Moreover, the raids themselves have targeted persons with no record at all.”

All across the nation, undocumented men and women, sisters and brothers are being targeted as they move about their daily lives. Walking to the store, going to mass or running an errand are all actions that could make one susceptible to being detained and deported.

Juan Carlos, a mentor connected with Faith in Florida, a member of PICO National Network, was recently convicted of driving without a license and sentenced to serve time in jail over four consecutive weekends. When he reported to the local jail last weekend, he was detained and has yet to be released. “Juan Carlos, a community leader who mentors at risk youth at St. Joseph Catholic Church, is clearly a victim of President Trump’s aggressive targeting of undocumented Latinos,” said Anthuanette Hidalgo, an organizer with Faith in Florida. “Sadly, local law enforcement is working with the Trump administration to carry out his devastating policies. This is how trust is broken and how crime can escalate. Many undocumented individuals are afraid to report crimes for fear that contact with local law enforcement could lead to the victim being detained and deported.”

“Even as President Trump alleges the raids are a fulfillment of a campaign promise, ICE officials are trying to dupe the American people into believing the raids are routine enforcement,” Carmona said. “Of course, we know they are a dramatic break with both accepted practice and community norms.”

“Our experience is that people are definitely scared,” said Robert Sagastume, interim director of the Kansas/Missouri DREAM Alliance (KSMODA), which mobilized lawyers and faith leaders to monitor Kansas City area churches on February 12 after concerns of possible raids outside churches. “We were hearing there would be raids outside of churches, and while that didn’t happen on the 12th, we believe undocumented community members will continue to be targeted. That’s why we are developing safety plans and ongoing strategies to affirm the dignity of all people and their right to live, work and take care of their families without fear.”

Even before the raids began, PICO federations across the country have been mobilizing to provide safe havens to targeted communities.

In Washington, D.C., PICO leaders have organized local sanctuary trainings to instruct congregations on what it means to provide sanctuary. At least 200 people attended the initial training on January 31, and close to 250 turned out for the follow-up training on February 13. PICO federations in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Indiana have all taken steps to guide congregations on offering sanctuary.

In addition to outreach among faith leaders, elected officials in dozens of cities and counties across the United States have declared, or are being asked to declare, that they will provide sanctuary to undocumented individuals and families. In Indianapolis, IndyCAN recently organized an event with the mayor and sheriff, during which they urged the local officials to refrain from cooperating with ICE. Clergy and leaders with IndyCAN asked the City-County Council to pass a resolution forbidding the use of local resources for federal directives such as discriminatory ICE holds.

“As a Christian, it is difficult, perhaps even unconscionable, to accept that something like a national border can separate God's people from one another,” said Pastor Carmine Pernine of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in New Jersey, a member of PICO federation Faith in New York.  “I, like so many others, was born in the United States through no assertion of will or choice, but by chance! We have no control over our place of birth.”  



PICO National Network is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. PICO works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 45 local and state federations. PICO and its federations are non-partisan and do not endorse or support candidates for office. PICO urges people of faith to consult their faith traditions for guidance on specific policies and legislation. Learn more at www.piconetwork.org