People of faith gather for ecumenical call to repentance for treatment of immigrants

On Wednesday, February 18, around 25 prayers and demonstraters gathered at the San Francisco Immgration Court, 100 Montgomery Street, San Francisco. Coordinated by Mission Bay Community Church and Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, lay and ordained Christians gathered outside the court to pray, sing, hear scripture, receive ashes, and call for repentence from the immigration and deportation system.

Earlier this week, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Obama administration did not “comply with the Administrative Procedure Act.” Between 60 and 80 hearings for undocumented minors occur at the immigration court daily. ICIR has been gathering weekly before the morning hearings to pray for comprehensive reform to US immigration policy and to offer support and a gift to children on their way to a deporation hearing. Many of those hearings have been fast-tracked, which ICIR says violates migrants’ rights to due process. The Rev. Deborah Lee, director of ICIR said, “The overturned action leaves out half of the undocumented - notably, the recently arrived. A lot of the children and families are recent arrivals who came to the US last summer. Some of the adults potentially could have been helped by the executive action — if they had been here more than five years and had a citizen child...Despite the judge’s ruling, we are confident it will be overturned and that people should still prepare for DAPA and DACA. We commit ourselves to persevere and continue fighting with the immigrant community for protection and justice for all.”

Seminary intern Lacey Hunter of Mission Bay Community Church gathered the assembly to a space of worship with an opening prayer. Hunter prayed that leaders’ hearts would be changed concerning immigration policy and constituents would hold their elected representatives accountable for their actions. The Rev. Dawn Hyde, also of Mission Bay read from Isaiah, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke,to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’”

After the Scripture reading, clergy present imposed ashes on those present, inviting them into the observance of a holy Lent, turning away from ways that actively and passively support injustice. After everyone present had received ashes, the Rev. Anna Lange-Soto, vicar of El Buen Pastor, Redwood City, spoke to the importance of continuing to stand and work for justice for undocumented migrants. Lange-Soto said, “We are called to love those around us, just as God loves us — and that’s a pretty high standard!” As part of calling on the judicial system to repent for its treatment of the undocumented — especially minors — Lange-Soto imposed ashes on the facade of the court building.

After a blessing and dismissal by Hyde, participants sang “She’s got the whole world in her hands” with specially-written verses about immigration and immigration courts. Many participants stayed after to greet migrants arriving to the court building and offer them a small stuffed animal for company during their hearing. For more information about the work of ICIR-CLUE, contact the Rev. Deborah Lee, dlee@clueca.org.

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