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Bringing down the walls of our unjust immigration system

Community members take part in a Jericho walk outside the ICE office in Manchester, New Hampshire.  Photo: Arnie Alpert / AFSC

Communities across the country are taking part in “Jericho walks” to call for an end to detention and deportation.    

On May 3, people across the country joined a National Day of Action against detention and deportation. Starting at the same time across time zones, community members in at least nine cities took part in a peaceful action known as the “Jericho walk” at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices and other locations.   

The Jericho walk draws inspiration from the biblical story in which people marched around the city of Jericho seven times, causing its walls to fall. Today, the Jericho walk is a silent, peaceful action—open to people of all or no faiths—to bring down our unjust immigration system.  

Working with AFSC’s Immigrant Rights Program in Newark, New Jersey, I feel the urgency in the call for more humane and compassionate immigration policies every day. Over the past year, the Trump administration has launched a series of attacks on immigrants—ramping up immigration enforcement, further militarizing our southern border, and ending protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

ICE is Trump’s deportation force, carrying out his anti-immigrant agenda. It has no place in safe, welcoming communities. And every day, more and more people are joining the call to abolish ICE.   

Jericho walk in New York City. Photo: AFSC/Newark 

Stories abound of how ICE has terrorized immigrant communities—ripping a mother away from her children in broad daylight, raiding businesses to round up workers just trying to support themselves and their families, arresting people near schools and courthouses, and showing no mercy for people who have known no other home but the U.S. for decades. These cruel policies and practices have continued to fuel the mass incarceration of immigrants in detention centers often run by for-profit prison corporations that benefit from human suffering.

We’ve also seen ICE target immigrant rights leaders—including Ravi Ragbir and Jean Montrevil of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City; Eliseo Jurado, husband of sanctuary leader Ingrid Encalada Latorre in Colorado; and activist Maru Mora Villalpando in Washington—who have bravely stood up to the Trump administration and inspired many other immigrants to speak out and advocate for themselves.

The Jericho walks taking place across the country are just one example of how many courageous immigrants and their allies are asserting their rights and dignity—and demanding polices that welcome and respect all people. The walks were popularized by the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, which has organized Jericho walks since 2011 and encouraged other cities to create their own.

AFSC is supporting immigrant communities in several cities in organizing their walks. Here in Newark, we helped coordinate an interfaith Jericho walk took on May 3 that took place in front of the federal building and was attended by Cardinal and Archbishop Joseph Tobin.

Jericho walk in New York City. Photo: New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City

In Colorado, Jericho walks took place in Denver and Boulder, where four sanctuary leaders—Ingrid, Sandra Lopez, Rosa Sabido, and Araceli Velasquez—stood with community members from their host congregations, where they have lived for months.

"Rosa Sabido and I will stand with Ravi, Jean, and Mora as they fight for our First Amendment rights," Araceli says. "We are working to create a path for everyone in our community through the 'People’s Resolution.'" 

In New Hampshire, AFSC helped coordinate a Jericho walk on April 30. The Jericho walk has become a regular part of how members of the faith community in New Hampshire accompany immigrants. Whenever people have check-in appointments with ICE, community members hold Interfaith Prayer Vigils for Immigrant Justice, including seven circuits around the block where the federal building sits in downtown Manchester.    

“Jericho walks are a powerful way to express solidarity for immigrants who are threatened with detention and deportation while letting ICE know that immigrants have a wide community of support, especially in the faith community,” says Arnie Alpert, co-director of AFSC’s New Hampshire program. “They also foster community building among people of faith looking for a way to express their concern for social justice and support for our immigrant neighbors, and they provide a public witness to the injustice happening in our communities.” 


Interested in organizing a Jericho walk in your community?

Learn more by downloading the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC toolkit

About the Author

Chia-Chia Wang is the organizing and advocacy director in AFSC's Newark, New Jersey office.