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As Immigrants Living in Sanctuary Face Threats from the Trump Administration, the Sanctuary Collective is in D.C. Urging Action
“My husband has been living in a St. Louis church for almost 2 years.”
Washington D.C. - A dozen members of the National Sanctuary Collective are in Washington D.C. today calling on congressional members to take action and champion their cause. Earlier this month, members of the Collective were mailed fines as high as $497,777 from top DHS officials in the Trump Administration. This comes on the heels of ICE operations against sanctuary members -- one at a scheduled USCIS appointment and another against a crime victim and the certifying police agency that signed on to a certification acknowledging her cooperation with a law enforcement agency.
“The current administration has turned sanctuary into an ugly word, but at the very core, sanctuary represents resilience and human dignity. Given the political climate, the leaders of the collective understand that it will take bold action and leadership to address this issue head on, but they are willing to take on the challenge, and they are counting on elected officials to find national policy solutions to this issue, which would have implications for thousands of people.” Lizbeth Mateo, an attorney for Edith Espinal, one of the mothers living in sanctuary who received a fine letter.
What: Press Conference
When: TODAY, Tuesday, July 23 @ 1:00pm
Where: Rayburn House Office Building 2325, Washington DC
Who: Members of the Sanctuary Collective, their family, church leaders and attorneys for immigrants in sanctuary
VISUALS: Testimonials and pictures
“We are here in D.C. today representing all of the families across the country who are not only separated but also facing retaliation from this Administration,” states Carly Garcia, whose husband, Alex Garcia, has been living at Christ Church United Church of Christ in St. Louis since September 2017. Carly, a U.S.-born citizen, has expressed that “it doesn’t matter that I am a U.S. citizen and we have 5 kids together, they still want to deport my husband.” On July 12th, 2019, Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-1) introduced H.R. 3750, a private bill for Alex Garcia, which, if it is prioritized by Congressional leadership and the Immigration and Citizenship subcommittee, could result in a stay of removal and ultimately, legal permanent residency with a pathway for Alex to become a U.S. citizen.
“For those of us living in sanctuary it feels like we have been forgotten by those who claim to be our champions. We too are separated from our families, yet we are told to be patient and to wait for immigration reform” says Edith Espinal, an Ohio mother who has been in sanctuary at the Columbus Mennonite Church for 21 months. “In Columbus I am still waiting for my representative to visit me at the church. For two years I’ve been requesting a meeting, I just feel like we are not a priority.”
“Our friends are going to D.C. on our behalf because there are members of congress like Sen. Sanders and Rep. Castro who have personally made promises to us. We want to make sure that they keep their word and that our struggle becomes the number one priority for them” said Hilda Ramirez, who has been living in sanctuary with her 11-year old son Ivan, for over two-years.
The National Sanctuary Collective (Colectivo Santuario) is comprised of immigrants in sanctuary, immigrant organizers, attorneys, and allies in faith communities spanning seven states—Texas, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Virginia.