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Immigration Raids Spark March on Mayor’s Office

Photo: Kathryn Johnson / AFSC

‘Safety for All’ rally demands new direction from ICE and Mayor Bowser

WASHINGTON, DC (October 4, 2017) In the wake of ‘Operation Safe City’ – a series of nationwide raids targeting sanctuary jurisdictions – DC residents are demanding action from the federal government and the Mayor. Almost 500 people were detained during the raids, including 14 from Washington, DC. On Wednesday October 4, hundreds will gather at the national Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters, and then march to Mayor Bowser’s office.

“We are appalled by ICE's activity in our city,” said Brandon Wu, a member of Sanctuary DMV. “This operation was a cruel PR stunt and, according to ICE, an act of retaliation against sanctuary cities like ours. Raids don’t create safer cities; we are all safer when our city has policies that prioritize the rights and safety of all residents, regardless of immigration status.”

Organizers are demanding that ICE immediately cease all immigration raids, stop retaliation against sanctuary jurisdictions and institutions, and release all documents relating to Operation Mega. They are also demanding that Mayor Muriel Bowser publicly denounce Operation Safe City; that she demand that all 14 individuals from Washington, DC who were apprehended in this raid be released immediately and provided with legal representation; and that she take immediate steps to refuse to honor any ICE detainers or notifications.

“It’s imperative that Mayor Bowser speak out against these despicable tactics, and defend and strengthen our city’s policies to protect immigrants,” said Kathryn Johnson, Policy Impact Coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee. “DC and cities across the country have enacted policies to defend the constitutional right to due process, and we can’t let ICE undermine that. We know the damage that detention and deportation cause our communities, and we don’t want our city contributing to that damage.”

Speakers at the rally include clergy and representatives of local organizations. “People of faith across the country continue to join local communities in passing Sanctuary City ordinances designed to uphold due process rights and keep ICE out of our communities,” said Rev. Reuben Eckels, Interfaith Advocacy Minister with Church World Service. “This administration's attack on Sanctuary cities is an overreach by federal government into local communities that have decided to embrace their neighbors. We condemn 'Operation Safe City' and call on all our cities to hold ICE and local police accountable to stop the raids, end racial profiling, and respect the dignity of all people.”

Sponsoring organizations include Sanctuary DMV, the American Friends Service Committee, Detention Watch Network, Church World Service, Bend the Arc, DC Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, Virginia Area Coalition of Latino Organizations, Restaurant Opportunities Center of Washington, DC, DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network, Many Languages One Voice, La ColectiVA, Jews United for Justice, and HIAS.

“Our families and communities will not stand idly by while this administration and ICE enact a nativist, racist agenda of criminalization, detention and separation of our loved ones,” said Danny Cendejas of La ColectiVA. “Whether it's called ‘Operation Mega’ or ‘Operation Safe City’, we condemn these operations and demand an end to all raids, and demand that local elected officials end all collaboration with ICE.”

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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.