ACTION: Rise Up Against Indefinite Family Detention!

The Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) was enacted in 1997 to protect immigrant children in government custody. Under the FSA, children were not allowed to be held for longer than 20 days in detention facilities due to the proven harmful effects on their development and well-being. The Trump administration has released an amended version of this ruling that would permit undocumented children and parents who enter the U.S. to be held indefinitely in unlicensed and unregulated facilities. Under the proposed regulation, “emergency” loopholes could result in the denial of basic needs or services to families in detention, as well as reduced access to due process. Plus, children would no longer be required to be transferred to Health and Human Services facilities within 72 hours of being detained.

So, what can you do about this injustice?

Marissa Ornelas: Walking with the Women and Children of the South Texas Family Residential Center

At IFCLA’s Dinner Dialogo on Friday, Oct. 5th, SLU junior and dedicated friend of IFCLA Marissa Ornelas spoke about her ten-week experience at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, over the summer of 2018. Marissa shared informative facts and figures about the immigration system and the way that the Dilley detention center functions, but she also shared poignant and powerful first-person testimonies of the hardship and injustices she witnessed during her time there.

ICE's $1 Billion Special Request Denied by Congress

Great news! ICE’s request for one billion dollars as part of a short-term spending bill was denied by Congress last week. The Department of Homeland Security requested an ‘anomaly,’ or request for extra funding, in order to continue expansion of the immigrant detention system, but – in an unprecedented move for Congress - the request was not part of the final budget package passed through the Senate, which should pass through the House in coming weeks.

Clay urges ICE to temporarily drop plans to deport man living in Maplewood sanctuary

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay is calling on federal immigration officials to approve a stay of removal for Alex Garcia, who took sanctuary in a Maplewood church nearly 10 months ago.


“Anyone who meets Alex Garcia and his wife would be immediately moved by their courage, their dignity and their determination to keep their family together,” Clay said in a statement. “Deportation would do nothing to protect America. But it would destroy a family.”

Carolina Hidalgo, St. Louis Public Radio. 12 July 2018.

Clay calls on ICE to stay a deportation order against immigrant living in a Maplewood church

“Alex is a family man, is not a danger to the community and should be reunited with his U.S. citizen wife and five U.S. citizen children,” Clay, D-St. Louis, wrote in a letter to Ricardo A. Wong, director of the Chicago office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

“We’re fishing,” Clay said in May. “We are fishing to figure out a way to get this young man reunited with his family by any means necessary.” He told Garcia during his 30-minute visit that the congressman’s office would be in touch with ICE and Clay promised Garcia he would return to the church one day to watch Garcia walk out a free man.

Doug Moore, St. Louis Post Dispatch. 10 July 2018.

Clay calls on ICE to stay a deportation order against immigrant living in a Maplewood church

“Alex is a family man, is not a danger to the community and should be reunited with his U.S. citizen wife and five U.S. citizen children,” Clay, D-St. Louis, wrote in a letter to Ricardo A. Wong, director of the Chicago office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

“We’re fishing,” Clay said in May. “We are fishing to figure out a way to get this young man reunited with his family by any means necessary.” He told Garcia during his 30-minute visit that the congressman’s office would be in touch with ICE and Clay promised Garcia he would return to the church one day to watch Garcia walk out a free man.

Doug Moore, St. Louis Post Dispatch. 10 July 2018.

Mass Incarceration is Not the Solution to Family Separation

Mass Incarceration is Not the Solution to Family Separation

We stand firmly in opposition to the latest prevention-through-deterrence tactics used along the U.S.-Mexico border. It is wrong to separate and detain families. It is wrong to put children in cages, jails, tents, or "tender age" shelters. These recent policy changes are shocking, appalling, and morally reprehensible — but if we are surprised, it is only because we have not been paying attention.

Kirkwood Church Vows to Take in Undocumented Immigrants in Sanctuary

Following the lead of Christ Church UCC, a church in Kirkwood has voted to open its doors to undocumented immigrants refusing orders to leave the country. Eliot Unitarian Chapel (100 South Taylor Avenue, Kirkwood) announced yesterday that it would defy the federal government and become a sanctuary church.

“Our congregation stands with undocumented people in protesting the immoral laws and practices that tear families apart. Eliot Chapel is prepared to shelter an undocumented person or family vulnerable to deportation if we are approached to do so. We encourage other faith communities to join us,” the Rev. Barbara Gadon, Eliot Chapel’s lead minister, said in a prepared statement.

Sarah Fenske, Riverfront Times, 6 June 2018.

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay Visits Alex Garcia, Immigrant Claiming Sanctuary

“This process begins with ICE,” Clay says, “and making an appeal to them to take another look at this case to realize that Alex has been a model citizen and has supported his family and is loved by his community.”

Though uncertain of what exact procedure will follow, Clay, who supports immigration reform, vows he will be there the day Garcia gets to walk out of Christ Church as a free man.

Camille Respess, Riverfront Times, 29 May 2018.

Congressman visits Honduran immigrant seeking refuge from deportation

Clay said his office would be in touch with ICE. He promised Garcia he would return to the church one day to watch Garcia walk out a free man.

“Alex has been a model citizen, loved by his community, and there are people all over Missouri saying this about him,” Clay said. “I’m certain the voters of my district would feel the same way.”

Mike Faulk, St. Louis Post Dispatch. 25 May 2018.

Alex Garcia Is Still in Sanctuary, Defying ICE, as Support Grows

Thank you, Riverfront Times reporter Doyle Murphy for helping us share the #truth of the #injustice facing Alex Garcia, Carly Garcia, their family, and countless other immigrant and mixed status families. Thank you to the Poplar Bluff, Missouri community who spent time with Doyle and shared their perspectives and continue to support Alex and his family.

We will not stand idly by as ICE destroys our communities and shatters our values. We will not wait patiently as Congress makes more excuses, picks petty battles, and fails to do their job. We've had more than enough.

#Sanctuary4All #SantuarioParaTodos #Not1More #HereToStay #dignity #dignidad #AlexBelongsHere #LoveThyNeighbor

Doyle Murphy, Riverfront Times. 14 February 2018.

Marissa: Reflection on a trip to the border

For a long time I was naive to the destruction that the United States had been a part of in Central America. To this day Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have some of the highest murder rates. At the South Texas Family Residential Center, I saw the consequences of this destruction first hand. The women and children that are imprisoned in the detention center are fleeing poverty, gang threats, and domestic violence. During my time in the detention center I was responsible for translating and prepping women for their credible fear hearings. From 8:00am till 6:00pm I heard the stories of women who had made the courageous decision to leave their home countries with their small children with the hope of a better life.  

Visiting Missouri's State Capitol

We've sustained a small but persistent presence in Missouri's state capitol this year. With leadership and bill tracking from Aimee Abizera, the Executive Director of the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA), we have been active speaking out against anti-immigrant legislation in our state. 

In January, IFCLA's Program Coordinator, Sara John, offered oral testimony before the Senate Committee hearing on Senate Bill 34, along with attorney Ken Schmitt of US Legal Solutions, Aimee from MIRA, Sarah Baker ( ACLU-MO), and Jeannette Mott Oxford ( EmpowerMO). Unfortunately, the bill was voted out of committee and onto the Senate floor. 

16th Annual Cambio de Colores Conference at UMSL

June 2017

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The work of two of IFCLA’s interns, Mary Louise Pabello and Yareli Urbina, was presented as part of the poster session and a verbal presentation at the Xth Annual Cambio de Colores conference held at UMSL June 14-17. The conference theme this year was , “Todos Juntos: Collaboration and Unity in Uncertain Times.” 

Mary Louise and Ellie shared preliminary findings of their immigrant oral history project and community survey regarding immigrant detention in the St. Louis area. As both interns finish up their time at IFLCA, they will prepare to transfer the study and oral history project onto the next leaders of the Migration Justice Committee. Congratulations on a job well done, ladies! 

Mobilizing Coherent Community Responses to Changing Immigration Policies—Conference in Houston, TX

On June 7-9, St. Louis was represented by 5 women from three organizations (IFCLA, the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action (MICA) Project, and St. Francis Community Services Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry—CLAM) at a conference in Houston, Texas, sponsored by the Center for Migration Studies of New York, the Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance of Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston, the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, and South Texas College of Law Houston. IFCLA, MICA Project and CLAM are also active participants in St. Louis’s Immigrant Service Providers Network (ISPN), a group that seeks to support the foreign born and their families in the St. Louis region by increasing community resources, advocating for inclusive policies and services, and educating residents and providers. 

Exploring immigrant experiences and identities through a trip to the borderlands, by Mary Louise Pabello

I have known the struggle of migrants all my life, being myself an immigrant to the US. But after the border trip with Loretto’s Latin America and Caribbean Committee, I find myself asking, “do I really?” Like the young woman I met at Casa Nazareth, my mother crossed countries while three months pregnant, and with two young daughters in tow. Unlike the young woman, however, my mother wasn’t fleeing violence in her home country. My mother wasn’t made to cross miles of desert on foot. My mother had a husband waiting to receive her. This young woman’s husband was in an unidentified detention center. She was alone. No family other than the life she carried, her yet-unborn child who might grow up never knowing their father. 

Trump's Wall, Detention, & Deportation Regime: Perspectives from Southern Mexico

IFCLA was thrilled to welcome Juan Carlos Morales Penetro and Gabriel Torreblanca Flores to St. Louis in April, who shared their expertise and experience as attorneys, Mexican governmental employees, and non-profit migration justice advocates from Puebla, Mexico. 

Juan Carlos recently left his position with the Secretary of Exterior Relations and is now serving as Manager of Migrant Protection and Documentation Services in the Department for Migrant Services for the City of Puebla. Gabriel is an advisor on migration issues to the federal House of Representatives in Mexico City. Both have extensive resumes working for justice for immigrants - not just for mexicanos en el exterior (Mexicans outside of Mexico), but also for the foreign-born who find themselves in Mexican territory (often on a journey from Central America to the United States). Since the inauguration of President Trump, both have seen dramatic shifts in their work to protect Mexicans in the US and in the work of protecting migrants in Mexico.