By Linda Kuruhara, Chair of the Immigration Task Force
On September 7, there was a grand march to the Sheriff's Office from the Capitol. This was an advocacy march for SB 54, The California Values Act. This act separates Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) from local law enforcement. and establishes a uwallbetwenn the two agencies, so that Californians can live in safe communities. this Act is an expansion of the Trust Act which passed legislation a couple of years ago. It was established so that if a crime is committed people can go to local law enforcement regardless of their status and trust that they will not be deported for reporting a crime or handed over to ICE.This act is a protection for minor law infractions such as, a tail light out on a car, a barking dog, or being a victim of domestic violence. "Crimes" of which people have been deported for since they were out of status.The violent crimes which are listed in the Trust Act are an exception to collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE.These heinous crimes do not affect collaboration between ICE and local law enforcement.
The Sheriff's Association does not want this wall between local law enforcement and ICE. They are against SB 54 for this reason. So that they can collaborate with ICE on any person picked up for a major or minor violation can be handed over to ICE if they are out of status. This leads to abuse of power and racial profiling. People who "look like" a foreigner can be and are stopped by local police. If they are out of status they collaborate with ICE and are likely to be deported.
Now with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) being rescinded by the Trump Administration, these students will be out of compliance with immigration law in two years. This puts them into the same status as their parents. These are people who came to the United States under 16 with their parents. They grew up in this country and know only our government. They grew up in our schools. Many do not speak the language of their ancestors and will be sent to a strange land not knowing the culture and language. Their parents came here under duress from their country of origin. Basically these people are here because of our U.S. Foreign Policy that has created unrest and turmoil in their own country. These people are NOT ""illegals"--they are "refugees"--fleeing from rapists, rebel groups, and corrupt and oppressive governments who will shoot them if they don't comply/honor the new regime. These countries go from one corrupt regime to another with our government supplying the arms and making a profit off their backs.
Where is the justice in all of this? Where is the United Methodist Church? We have 300+ United Methodist Churches.
Can't we provide SANCTUARY? The would be 300 families helping to provide shelter until the family has had their day in court. We need a comprehensive immigration reform for all these people. Now that there is no DACA--what is our next step. SB 54 is one step in the right direction. We have 5 churches who have declared themselves a SANCTUARY. We need more people willing to step up for "at the least of these".
St. Mark's in Sacramento is having a SANCTUARY workshop on September 30. You will see what we can to to support our immigrant families, ask questions from immigrant lawyers. Learn more about the plight of immigrants caught in the middle of our archaic immigration policies.
I want to thank those United Methodists who came to the March and I ask that you consider becoming a sanctuary for people as they go through due process as to whether they belong in the U.S. or elsewhere. Thank you Brandon Austin (Davis UMC), Kristin Stoneking (Epworth UMC, Berkeley), Fel Cao and Alex Magsano (Wayside and American Canyon UMC), Gala King and Austin Tam (Buena Vista UMC) and Myself representing (The Cal-Nevada AC and St. Mark's UMC in Sacramento).
With the Trump Administration dismantling the progress we have made for immigrants in our communities, like rescinding DACA, we need more advocates on the state and federal levels to push for a comprehensive immigration reform. The UMC is a sleeping giant. We need to be proactive. If you want to talk to a church who has taken the first step and declared Sanctuary, here is your chance: Watsonville First UMC, Buena Vista UMC, Alameda, San Jose First and Wesley UMC, San Jose and Alum Rock UMC in San Jose. Also, the Table in Sacramento and Epworth of Berkeley sponsor 2 refugee families and Centennial UMC of Sacramento does monthly legal clinics. Be inspired and be engaged as a United Methodist open your minds, your hearts and your doors to treat others and you would like to be treated.