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AFSC speaks out against ICE raids

Photo: Gabriela Flora / AFSC

Quaker org calls for congressional action, not deportation

WASHINGTON, DC (September 29, 2017) This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained almost 500 undocumented immigrants in a series of coordinated enforcement actions targeting people in jurisdictions with policies that limit collaboration between ICE and local law enforcement. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for 100 years – condemned the raids, and the accompanying rhetoric.

“These raids are a disturbing attempt to intimidate cities that are protecting constitutional rights and standing up for their immigrant community members,” said Kathryn Johnson, AFSC’s Policy Impact Coordinator. “’Operation Safe City’ is a cynical misnomer – our cities are not safer when families and communities are torn apart.”

The raids took place in cities and counties across the U.S., including in Denver, where 63 people were arrested and where AFSC’s program has for years worked to expand sanctuary for those at risk of deportation. "Our local officials have created Safe Cities where everyone can contribute to the health of Denver,” said Jennifer Piper, Director of Interfaith Organizing in AFSC’s Denver office. “In Denver and across the country, local immigrant and citizen communities stand strong with our elected officials. We demand Congress create a path to citizenship and reign in wasteful and destructive spending increases for ICE.”

The Trump Administration says that these raids are targeting those with criminal convictions, but advocates say that someone’s record should not be a factor when it comes to respecting human rights. “The Administration’s rhetoric attempts to divide the immigrant movement by criminalizing entire groups of people and behaving as though they do not deserve due process or human dignity,” said Johnson. “But we’re not buying it. We stand for everyone's right to be free from detention and deportation.”

In Massachusetts, where 50 people were arrested in these raids, organizers are pointing to the unjust and racially discriminatory criteria that is used to decide who is a priority for deportation. “We need to expose the false idea that ICE is targeting ‘gang members,’” said Gabriel Camacho, the Project Voice Coordinator in AFSC’s Cambridge office. “What does gang membership even mean? A resource officer in a school or parking lot sees a teenager with a tattoo, talking to three or more young men on a corner, and that’s enough to get you in a gang database that ICE has access to. These databases have been proven to be nothing more than racial profiling.”

In the face of these raids, AFSC vowed to continue their work conducting “know your rights” trainings, mobilizing rapid response networks, providing sanctuary in congregations, and advocating for policy changes that limit collusion between ICE and local law enforcement.

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.