WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier today, faith and immigration activists protested a hearing held in the House of Representatives on President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The joint hearing, organized by the Subcommittee on National Security and the Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules, included testimony by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldaña, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director León Rodriguez, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth.
Interrupting the hearing as ICE Director Saldaña began her testimony, protesters called for an immediate end to family separation and deportations, along with the implementation of prosecutorial discretion in all eligible cases.
“For months, we have been waiting for Director Saldaña and other ICE officials to implement prosecutorial discretion as outlined in President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Their continued failure to act results in the unjust, immoral deportation and separation of families,” the Rev. Noel Andersen said. Anderson was one of the protesters at today’s hearing as National Grassroots Coordinator for Church World Service. “We acted today to show that we are standing in solidarity with thousands of families who are living in fear of having their lives torn apart by our nation’s broken immigration system.”
In addition to protesting the congressional hearing, protesters held a three-day fast in front of ICE headquarters, set to end on Thursday.. More than 200 individuals have joined in 10 “echo” actions across the United States. These faith and community leaders are drawing attention to the continued failure of ICE officials to implement prosecutorial discretion as outlined by President Obama’s November 2014 memo. Examples of individuals who should have been provided discretion include Arturo Hernandez Garcia and Rosa Robles Loreto, who have been living in the United States for more than 15 years and are parents of young children. Both have taken sanctuary in churches in Denver and Tucson, respectively, while fighting deportation proceedings.
“We must act now to ensure that families like Rosa and Arturo’s do not live with the constant fear of having their lives torn apart by our country’s broken immigration system,” Arnie Carter of Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition said. Carter is fasting for three days in protest of deportations. “I stand with the protestors at the hearing today and those around the country to demand Director Saldaña act with discretion and compassion for families and our communities.”