Thursday, March 16, 2017
Citywide Coalition of Faith Leaders block traffic in front of ICE center in NYC to call on Mayor De Blasio and demand deep protections for Immigrant and Refugee Community
New York City - Twenty-five New Yorkers from a citywide coalition of over 90 multi-faith congregations and 25 faith-based organizations knelt down to pray in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement holding center on Varick Street as hundreds stood by in support to call on the Mayor and the City Council to stop targeting immigrant and refugee New Yorkers and communities of color.
The group started with a rally at Washington Square Park representing Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Hindu communities. Activists and faith leaders then called out New York as no sanctuary because of the latest federal immigration and travel ban, or “Muslim ban 2.0" as well as the local broken windows policing, and demanded city ofﬁcials step up protections for local immigrant communities by providing additional funding to the New York Immigrant Family Unit Project, a program that provides legal counsel to low income immigrants in detention proceedings. Clergy and faith leaders also announced their network of houses of worship as “sanctuary congregations", or where immigrants fearing deportation can ﬁnd refuge and support during immigration raids.
"New York will be a true sanctuary city when it prohibits ICE from conducting raids and picking up fathers and mothers who have only committed minor crimes. We know that if someone is only accused of a crime, their fingerprints are shared with the state and federal government. Because of this, we are calling on Mayor de Blasio to decriminalize low level offenses and fully fund legal representation for low income New Yorkers in deportation proceedings." said Pastor Rich Perez of Christ Cruciﬁed Fellowship.
“if we are to be a sanctuary, we cannot allow any form of ban on any people to be enforced in our city or airports. I am so proud of the brave judged who issued the Hawaii ruling. lt is the ﬁrst step, but we must also stop surveillance and policing of Muslim New Yorkers, and allow all Americans and those seeking refuge to live and practice our faiths without fear," said Burema Naby Niambele, the co-executive director of the Muslim and Immigrant Coalition for Justice.
“As people of faith, we declared our congregation as a sanctuary to protect our members. We saw the fear that many are haunted by when they or their loved ones could be arbitrarily picked up by agents, so we did our part. Now l’m calling on Mayor de Blasio to do his part to protect our families by standing up against these efforts to take away the freedom to work and pray without fear," declared Minister Micah Bucey of Judson Memorial Church.
Hundreds of New Yorkers then marched through the West Village in song and chants, stopping at Stonewall to say prayers for the 6 trans women murdered in only the ﬁrst 3 months of this year. The group then continued to 201 Varick, where community members from Faith in New York and their allied partner organizations have been recently held when awaiting deportation trials. 10 clergy members and 15 lay-leaders filed across the street hand in hand as prayers were said over them.
“There will be no silence until bowed heads are raised rather than pushed further into the dirt, no silence until the righteous are loved rather than mocked and vilified, no silence until the strangers in our midst are protected rather than hunted, chained, and whisked away never to be heard from again! Master of the universe, please grant these brave souls the ability to walk in your ways, to emulate you. May their act today be no longer necessary tomorrow, but if tomorrow comes and such actions remain necessary, Lord please give strength to us all that we may continue to do your will on earth," shared Rabbi Jonah Geffen of Congregation Shaare Zedek as he prayed over those blocking trafﬁc.
Members were arrested and transported in NYPD vans to 1 Police Plaza, where they went through processing in song. The mood was joyous as two hours later, the faith leaders returned to their communities and returned home.
This event was part of the “Faith over Fear Week of Action," a series of demonstrations led by Faith In New York and allies ﬁghting for immigration justice and other issues in the upcoming NYC local elections. They are calling on the Mayor and City Council to make NYC a true sanctuary city.
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