Immigration is an important social justice issue because every year up to 500,000 people are detained and exposed to brutal and inhumane conditions that endanger their lives. Many of these people are refugees and asylum seekers. Unfortunately, they often wind up being returned to unsafe conditions in their country of origin or placed in a system that denies their legal rights. The American Civil Liberties Union States: “When the government has the power to deny legal rights and due processes to one vulnerable group, everyone’s rights are at risk.”
According to the Social Justice Resource Center: “Undocumented immigrants have not committed a crime and are not criminals. They have violated civil code such as when a person ignores a traffic ordinance.” So why then, are we putting people in facilities ranging from private prisons to county jails? Detention centers such as these, result in lack of health care, neglect, and abuse. (americanprogress.org) Americans don’t seem to realize that although they would like immigrants to enter the country with documentation, the costs can be high and the wait can be decades long, so for people fleeing violence and oppression or waiting to see family, that’s not always an option.
America is a nation of immigrants and benefits from the diversity of people that reside here. Undocumented workers are paying taxes, help to maintain the social security trust fund, and the economy benefits from DACA recipients (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) based on a fee they are charged with their application. (Unidos US)
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute…” (Psalm 82:3)
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17)
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated mission is to protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety. However, ICE Raids often target large numbers of undocumented immigrants that are not posing threats and have not committed any crimes other than residing in the US illegally. Many of these people have been contributing positively to local communities for decades. The traumatic impacts of these raids on families are devastating and long-lasting.
Mississippi ICE raids: One year later, children bear the most trauma (clarionledger.com):
A massive raid in August 2019 arrested 680 workers from seven chicken processing plants in Mississippi. Dozens of families were torn apart, leaving communities shattered, and educators, religious leaders and activists scrambling to restore a sense of normalcy, only to have many of those efforts disrupted by COVID-19.
About one-third of children whose parents were arrested or lost their jobs after the raids were between the ages of four and eight. In rural Mississippi, mental healthcare is limited and largely inaccessible to immigrant families who primarily speak Spanish or indigenous Mayan dialects and are low-income and uninsured. It has marked the children’s ability to perform in school, it has robbed them of sleep and appetite, and created feelings of anxiety that have had an impact on their home and school life. The raids introduced a cascading set of stressors in the lives of young families: food insecurity, housing instability and the fear of deportation.
The United States government holds tens of thousands of immigrants in detention under the control of Customs and Border Protection (CBP; principally the Border Patrol) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Immigrants are detained for unlawful entry to the United States, when their claims for asylum are received (and prior to release into the United States by parole), and in the process of deportation and removal from the country. —Immigration detention in the United States – Wikipedia
ICE detention centers rife with abuse, investigation finds (usatoday.com):
Over 400 allegations of sexual assault or abuse. Inadequate medical care. Regular hunger strikes. Frequent use of solitary confinement. More than 800 instances of physical force against detainees. Nearly 20,000 grievances filed by detainees. And at least 29 fatalities, including seven suicides.
Immigration Detention Conditions | American Civil Liberties Union (aclu.org):
There are no regulations or enforceable standards regarding immigration detention conditions, including medical treatment, mental health care, religious services, transfers, and access to telephones, free legal services, and library materials. In fact, the vast majority of detainees never receive legal representation, which makes it more difficult not only to succeed in adversarial immigration proceedings, but also to complain about substandard treatment.
Immigrants, including lawful permanent residents and asylum seekers, have been detained for prolonged periods of time without any finding that they are either a danger to society or a flight risk.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA):
On June 15, 2012, the secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.
On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued a memorandum directing the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to take appropriate action to preserve and fortify DACA, consistent with applicable law.
—Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) | USCIS
Social Justice Resource Center » Immigration Facts & Figures
What We Do – National Immigration Law Center (nilc.org)
Immigration Detention Is Dangerous for Women’s Health and Rights – Center for American Progress
Immigration Detention & Enforcement | National Immigrant Justice Center
Migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants: What’s the difference? | International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Report | A Better Way: Community-Based Programming as an Alternative to Immigrant Incarceration | National Immigrant Justice Center
Why Don’t They Just Get In Line? There Is No Line for Many Unauthorized Immigrants | American Immigration Council
Immigrants’ Rights | American Civil Liberties Union (aclu.org)
Immigrants’ Rights and Detention | American Civil Liberties Union (aclu.org)
Immigration Detention 101 | Detention Watch Network
The Problem — Freedom for Immigrants
How immigrants are enriching our economy and society | UnidosUS
Worksite Immigration Raids – National Immigration Law Center (nilc.org)
Living Conditions in Immigration Detention Centers | Nolo
Immigration Arrest and DetentionCitizenship Now! (cuny.edu)
Immigrant Rights and Services : Office of the New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer (nyc.gov)
Immigration Detention 101: Information for Detainees’ Family | Nolo
Months After Massive ICE Raid, Residents Of A Mississippi Town Wait And Worry : NPR
ICE announces temporary guidelines for its enforcement and removal operations | ICE
FHA Now Accepting DACA Home Loans | How To Get Approved (themortgagereports.com)
Senators introduce bipartisan DREAM Act putting DACA recipients on path to citizenship (dailykos.com)
Hello! How are you? is considered more of a greeting than a question. It is a polite way of acknowledging someone’s presence. Learning how to say this phrase can help open communication with a person of another culture. Learn how to say “Hello” and “How are you?” in different languages:
The Diverse Dozen! How to Say “Hello” in 12 Different Languages | FluentU Language Learning
Ways to Say “How Are You” in Different Languages – Penlighten
Our NPUMC Supplemental Food Program provides bags of food each month for 20 families at the ABCD (Agri- Business Child Development) Center and 10 senior citizen households at Meadowbrook. We shop for a variety of foods, assemble the bags and deliver them to the ABCD Center and to Meadowbrook each month. Each bag of food costs between $20.00 and $25.00. Each month we spend between $600.00 and $750.00 to help meet food needs in New Paltz. If you would like to contribute to this effort, donate to NPUMC with memo designation “Supplemental Food Program”.
Read more: Supplemental Food Program – New Paltz United Methodist Church (newpaltzumc.org)
Ulster Immigrant Defense Network (UIDN) is a coalition of local faith communities, community organizations, and concerned residents desiring to provide support for our immigrant friends and neighbors. Formed in 2017 with a central office at the Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church in Kingston, the organization offers a variety of supports to families including school advocacy, food assistance, housing support, legal advocacy, and serves in many ways to provide safety and support to families in need. In recent months the organization has served more than 90 families in weekly food distribution efforts. It is coordinating tutoring support for students in Kingston and New Paltz. Immigrant families have relied on UDIN to help them navigate legal and healthcare systems in order meet needs for safety and stability during the months of the Covid-19 crisis.
Staffed by long standing volunteers and with special leadership provided by Father Alagna from Holy Cross, UDIN is open to those in need of support, and is open to those wishing to become involved in providing support.
Facebook page: Ulster Immigrant Defense Network – Red de Defensa de Inmigrantes de Ulster | Facebook
Website: The Ulster Immigrant Defense Network – Because We All Belong
Ulster Immigrant Defense Network
30 Pine Grove Avenue
Kingston, NY 12401
What you can do to help:
If someone is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) you can call:
· Legal Aid Society Immigration Hotline (844)-955-3425
· New York State Liberty Defense Team (800)-566-7636
Visit these websites for more actions you can take:
5 Things You Can Do to Fight for Immigrant Families
Here’s How You Can Help Migrant Children | Women’s Refugee Commission
Signs of Hope…
I was a stranger and you invited me in.
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some have entertained angels without knowing it.
The Ulster Immigrant Defense Network provides a network of safety and support to immigrants, regardless of status. Their vision is a society where everyone is welcomed, respected and safe.
The network provides: education support, transportation, safe spaces, sanctuary, tutoring, translation, household needs…food, clothing, school supplies, housing assistance and assistance in interactions with ICE.
Contact: Ulsterimmigrantdefensenetwork.org. Phone: 888-726-7276.
There are many such groups across the US.
Federal legislation: The US House of Representatives, with bi–partisan support, just passed a bill to give at least 4 million Dreamers (undocumented people who were brought to the US as children) and agricultural workers a path to citizenship. This bill now goes to US Senate.
Special thanks to Jacqueline Vedder for researching this social justice issue
Each station was researched by one or more members of our church community to help provide the detailed information that has been presented. Are you interested in this social justice issue? Do you have additional information or action items that you would like to share? If so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. These web pages are a dynamic, active work in process, just like the people of our community!