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FAIRFAX, VA – At a press conference and prayer vigil outside of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office in Virginia earlier today, faith leaders and advocates denounced a recent ICE raid outside of a church – calling on ICE to respect places of worship and immediately stop the raids. Last week, ICE officials apprehended six men exiting a hypothermia shelter at Rising Hope Mission Church in Alexandria, violating ICE’s own policy against conducting enforcement actions at or near “sensitive locations” like houses of worship.
After the prayer vigil, advocates proceeded inside the ICE facility, where staff attempted to help arrange a meeting with the faith leaders and ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations officials. ICE refused to meet with them and asked them to leave.
Rev. Keary Kincannon, Pastor at Rising Hope Mission Church, where last week’s ICE operation took place, said, “Rising Hope is committed to ministering in love to the needs of everyone, especially those living in poverty and on the margins of society. On that cold early morning, ICE waited for those six men outside of our shelter, part of our ministry to ensure that no one was left in the cold and ensure no one dies from hypothermia. The service we provide was threatened when ICE picked out these men right across from our church as they left the shelter changing the course of their lives and stirring fear in the community.”
Nicholas Marritz, a Justice Legal Aid Center lawyer representing the men who were apprehended, said, “We are gravely concerned that the government is targeting people in positions of extreme vulnerability. Actions like this put lie to the claim that enforcement is targeted and raise serious civil rights concerns about the way in which these shameful raids are being conducted. Furthermore, we’re frustrated that ICE refused this morning to release the names of the people who were apprehended–even to the pastor whose church was so clearly targeted.”
Rev. Ben Roberts the Director of Social Justice Ministries at Foundry United Methodist Church“Foundry UMC is dedicated to exercising our faith and public witness in a way that is consistent with teachings of Christ, the United Methodist Social Principles, and our Core Values. The predatory nature of these ICE raids run contrary to those values and we will seek through our advocacy, our witness, and our actions to support the most vulnerable among us.”
Yesterday, Church World Service issued an action alert urging all people of faith and good conscience to call ICE, Congress, and the White House to tell them to stop the raids and respect places of worship. Faith leaders continue to stand united in their opposition of inhumane and unjust immigration raids and call on ICE to respect places of worship, schools and hospitals by not apprehending people in or near these sensitive locations.
Sponsoring organizations included: Rising Hope Mission Church, DC-Maryland-Virginia Sanctuary Coalition, Centreville Immigration Forum, United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society, Church World Service, PICO National Network, Faith in Public Life, and Sojourners.