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Urgent update from Mother Marie Tatro to Sanctuary Movement supporters

sanctuary-movement-symbol.pngOn Thursday, July 14, I.C.E. began prohibiting entry to those accompanying immigrants into court proceedings. Sanctuary movement leaders are meeting soon to strategize a response.

The below email was sent to Sanctuary Movement friends and supporters on Friday, July 14:

Dear Friends,

I am writing to update you on some troubling news about the situation in Manhattan at the main courthouse where I.C.E. holds its check-ins and hearings.

Yesterday, I.C.E. began to prohibit our court accompaniment ministry that we have been doing in immigration court. (Research on the legality of this is already underway.)

We arrived at 26 Federal Plaza on Thursday to find that they had set up a security station/barricade with several guards blocking our entry to their public waiting rooms. They also told us we cannot stand in the hallways and forced us to either go to the cafeteria or to the first floor lobby.

As I stood with a woman facing detention, I politely asked the guard a hypothetical: "What if she came here, not with her pastor, but with her husband? Or her child? Would you prohibit her child from accompanying her into the waiting area, and send the child to the lobby?" He said, "Yes." (I'm not sure if the guards actually were prohibiting family members, but I was trying to get a sense of the parameters of their prohibition.)

I have already personally witnessed the impact and success that court accompaniment has had in people's lives. Last week, we had a remarkable case of a disabled woman being granted asylum -- a decision that came directly from the bench at the end of the hearing -- where the judge specifically identified our presence and support for the petitioner as affecting the judge's decision.

The recent actions by I.C.E. yesterday cannot be a coincidence. We are making a difference, and unjust actors within the administration seem to be reacting badly to our insistence on fairness. They've forced our friends to face the agency alone, and it is terrifying and inhumane.

As people of God, we know better than anyone the importance of the ministry of witness. If proceedings like these take place in darkness, the potential for abuse and injustice is exponentially higher. In the language of my faith tradition, the light of Christ must shine onto all the dark corners of our democracy to ensure fairness, safety, and decency.

The New Sanctuary Coalition, faith leaders here in the City, and legal counsel, will meet very soon to discuss how we should proceed, and I will keep you posted on next steps.

Please keep us all in prayer and thanks for all you do in your various corners of God's vineyard.

Peace and blessings,

Mthr. Marie+

The Rev. Marie A. Tatro
Vicar for Community Justice Ministry
Episcopal Diocese of Long Island
and Faith in New York, Board Member


Video News from Sanctuary workshop on Thursday, June 29: 


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