Church World Service Demands End to Immigration Raids, Calls for Support and Sanctuary to Those Targeted By ICE

May 13, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Despite continued outcry from faith, immigrants’ rights and community leaders, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced their plans to restart raids on Central American families, many of whom fled to the United States after facing extreme violence, persecution and poverty. This latest announcement continues the administration’s enforcement scheme of separating mothers and fathers from their children. Five months ago, when ICE announced its plans to target Central American families in raids, faith leaders from across the United States immediately responded in a statement on Christmas Day, offering sanctuary to those looking to fight their deportation orders and seek shelter from the raids. Nonetheless, ICE raids began in several states, rounding up and detaining 121 individuals.

The administration’s latest announcement to escalate these raids targeting women and children seeking asylum is an affront to our nation’s values. Church World Service joins other faith and community leaders in reiterating their call to President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to immediately stop this surge of arrests and deportations.

“The women, children and families who are impacted by these raids are fleeing unspeakable terror. For them to be persecuted again in a country that prides itself on exemplifying welcome and hospitality is unconscionable. Our country is at its best when we are most welcoming,” said the Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service. “It is time that the Obama administration immediately end these raids and stop the terror that they inflict on our immigrant brothers and sisters. The protection of people from harm should never be a pawn of any political strategy; and sending people back into danger is not good public policy.”

Adding to their call for an end to the raids, CWS restated its commitment to working with congregations and faith communities around the country to provide refuge and safety for those targeted by the United States’ outdated immigration system, including by offering protection and sanctuary to those fearing deportation.

“At the grassroots level, congregations throughout the country are reaching out to Central American asylum seekers to provide shelter or help find legal support. CWS is working closely with the sanctuary movement so that congregations are ready to open their doors to those in need of refuge in the midst of harsh, unjust and immoral immigration enforcement actions that are terrorizing our communities,” said the Rev. Noel Andersen, National Grassroots Coordinator at Church World Service. “We demand the Obama administration stop the structural sins of raids and deportations that tear families and communities apart. Instead, the administration should focus their resources on providing much needed legal assistance for these asylum seekers, ensuring due process is upheld, and committing humanitarian aid to address root causes of migration.”

Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants, and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty.