Amidst the daily clamor of scandals from the Trump administration, it’s easy to forget about the plight of innocent immigrants who are being deported while thousands of refugees are being denied entry to the United States despite real threats they face in their home countries.
By a unanimous vote in 2016, First Church declared itself a sanctuary congregation that would actively resist “unjust policies and actions that target marginalized people.” It’s time to honor our commitments and transform words into action. To help advance that cause, First Church’s Sanctuary Working Group is hosting a nurture at noon on June 10 where two “Dreamers” will speak about the devastating impacts confronting the immigrant community. Resources also will be provided about how you can make a difference.
Immigrant rights advocate Monica Camacho will share her life story. When she was 7 years old, her parents brought her to the United States from Mexico. Her father is an undocumented construction worker in Baltimore. Now 23 years old, Monica enrolled in 2012 in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), better known as the “Dreamers” initiative created by the Obama administration. But she has two older brothers who were ineligible to apply for DACA because of their age.
Monica, who grew up in Baltimore and is studying elementary education in college, may still face deportation since federal court orders have only temporarily blocked Trump’s efforts to kill DACA. Despite the court orders, the Trump administration still isn’t accepting any new applications from Dreamers, so thousands of young people who grew up in the United States no longer have a clear path toward citizenship. If nothing is done to help them, these young people may be forced to return to countries they do not know, sometimes without their families.
Jesus Perez is another young Dreamer who came to the United States with his brothers when he was 5 years old. He joined his parents in Baltimore, where his father died 10 years ago from diabetes. He worked as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins University studying health care access for young Latino and African American men in Baltimore. He plans to attend college in the fall and pursue a career in communications and film, which will never happen if he is deported.
People of faith cannot stand by without raising our voices to demand change. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and other religions all state that immigrants should be welcomed. In the Hebrew Bible, the Lord commanded Moses that “you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Jesus Christ was a persecuted immigrant who fled from his homeland to avoid death, and he called on his disciples to welcome strangers. The Quran teaches believers to protect the vulnerable.
At the nurture, First Church member and attorney Peter Tracey also will describe the disturbing changes he has seen in federal immigration courts where he volunteers to represent immigrants. Some Republicans in Congress even want to jail elected officials in sanctuary cities who seek to protect immigrants from unwarranted federal raids.
First Church is a member of the DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network, a group of local faith communities that have committed to protect the rights of immigrants and refugees. We hope you’ll join us on June 10 to hear more about how you can help in this important civil rights struggle.