Bay Area Groups Reject White House Token Action

March 19, 2014

For Immediate Release

Bay Area Immigrant Rights Organizations Reject White House Token Action:  

Call on Obama to Halt All Deportations and End Detention Quotas

On March 13, the Obama Administration called a closed door meeting with immigrant rights advocates to describe what it called a review of current deportation policies so that enforcement can be done “more humanely within the confines of the law.”

The latest move is a response to overwhelming demand to halt deportations from immigrant rights advocates and key Democratic Party leaders, including Janet Murguia, Executive Director of National Council of La Raza, who recently labeled President Obama the “Deporter in Chief.”

The coalition, SF Bay for Immigrant Justice, made up of 24 organizations listed below, is skeptical of this latest White House initiative until a concrete plan is in place to halt all deportations. To date, the administration’s announced immigration “initiatives” have fallen far short, and failed to ease the tragic separation of families that devastate communities on a daily basis.

President Obama has presided over nearly 2,000,000 deportations, at a rate far greater than his predecessor George Bush—and immigrants continue to be detained, deported, and separated from their families at record pace.

Enough is enough.  As organizations that see the devastation of deportations in our community, we cannot be silent, nor participate in programs that merely make cosmetic changes.

We demand concrete, systemic, and immediate actions such as: extending DACA to all immigrants;  issuing an executive order to halt all deportations; ending “Secure Communities” and other police/ICE collaboration programs;  ending workplace enforcement programs such as “E-Verify” and I-9 Audits;  supporting the “Bring Them Home” Campaign;  and granting humanitarian parole to deported parents who have been separated from their children.

The tide is turning.  We call on our friends and allies across the country to keep the pressure on. Now is the time to heighten calls for President Obama to halt all deportations.

For information on upcoming actions and events please contact:

4/4 – National Day of Action to Stop Deportations – San Francisco (hosted nationwide by NDLON): Donaji Lona, POWER,  ph. 415-864-8372 ext 301

4/3-4/4 – Women’s Fast For Families – San Francisco (hosted by We Belong Together): Claudia Reyes, Mujeres Unidas y Activas,

4/5 – Vigil to End Deportations part of National Day of Action – Richmond, West County Detention Center: Rev. Deborah Lee CLUE,,  510-893-7106 ext 319

5/1 – May 1st Regional March: Ariana Gil Nafarrate, Mujeres Unidas y Activas//Oakland Sin Fronteras,

Bay Area Coalition for Immigrant Justice and its member organizations signing on to this statement:

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus

ACUDIR – Alameda County United in Defense of Immigrant Rights

African Advocacy Network

AROC – Arab Resource & Organizing Center


CARECEN of Northern California

Causa Justa Just Cause

Chinese for Affirmative Action

Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice –CA

Dolores Street Community Services

East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition

Good Samaritan Family Resource Center

Jobs with Justice

La Raza Community Resource Center

Local 87

Mujeres Unidas y Activas

Our Family Coalition

Pangea Legal Services

POWER – People Organized to Win Employment Rights

SF Day Labor Program & Women’s Collective

San Francisco Interfaith Coalition on Immigration

San Francisco Organizing Project –Peninsula Interfaith in Action

San Francisco Labor Council

Transgender Law Center

Young Workers United



January WCDF Monthly Prayer Vigil led by Jewish Youth for Social Action

This past Saturday we had our monthly vigil at West County Detention Facility in Richmond, CA. It was led by the Jewish Youth for Community Action, an innovative leadership training empowering Jewish youth for social action, and Kehilla Community Synagogue.


It was a beautiful, prayerful and moving time where we heard testimonies, chanted and even shared poetry.  Watch video of one of the chants.


Norma Smith, from Kehilla Community Synagogue, shared her poem “This God Justice” during the vigil, of which we would like to share an excerpt:

“This god, Justice

Is an atheist.

It’s not what it

Sounds like: she’s not

A non-believer, oh, no,

He isn’t…


“My name

Is Jeremiah. I want you

To do good. I will

Argue you

Into it, I will

Persuade you, warn you,

threaten you,

love you more

than your understanding

can understand. I will

believe in you. I will walk around

with you. Even

when you want

to stop your ears, attack

and imprison me”


Watch another video where a youth shares a story.

We hope you can join us next month, February 1st, where InnerCHANGE, a missionary order among the poor, will lead the vigil. You won’t want to miss out!


Congregational Ministry and Advocacy: Angel Island Immigration Station 1910-1940


In the spring of 2010, a group of clergy and lay leaders of Chinese ancestry came together to plan a pilgrimage to Angel Island in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of its opening. Many of us had family connections to Angel Island, but knew little more than that our parents or grandparents were there at some time in their life. It was rarely something they liked to talk about. Thus, an early goal was to gather the Chinese community to recall the stories that were at risk of being forgotten, and to find healing and a deeper understanding.

In the process of planning this event, two other goals emerged. Firstly, we discovered striking parallels between the policies and discourse on immigration then and now and wanted to bring the similarities and connections to light. A hundred years ago, California and San Francisco was the focal point of the national immigration debate. Angel Island was built in 1910 in the middle of the San Francisco Bay to detain and control unwanted immigrants and laborers. At the time, the face of these unwanted immigrants was predominantly Chinese (then later Japanese, and other Asians).

Today the focal point for our nation’s immigration issue is the US-Mexico border. The public face of unwanted immigrants and laborers is largely Mexican and Latin American. Just as Angel Island was constructed to restrict Chinese immigration a hundred years ago, our government today is spending nearly $1.7 billion annually to keep out unwanted immigrants coming across the Southern border. Last year, nearly 380,000 immigrants were deported, exceeding the total number that were detained during Angel Island’s 30 years of operation. Like our Chinese ancestors, immigrants today are facing exclusionist laws, workplace exploitation, enforcement sweeps, family separations, long detentions and the constant fear of being deported.

Our second discovery was far more hopeful, for we uncovered forgotten stories of congregations and religious leaders who, during the Chinese Exclusion era, ministered to immigrants who were being held on the island. They sought to improve their living conditions, advocated for their release, and fought for reform of unjust policies. Recalling these stories* kindles our spirits to be faithful, and provokes us to ask ourselves: How are we to respond today?

We give thanks to all of those who contributed to the pilgrimage planning process and the contents of this book: Laurene Chan, Emma Chiang, Larry Chin, Alton Chinn, Lauren Chinn, Dale Ching, Buddy Choy, Doreen Der-McCleod, Casey Dexter-Lee, Rev. Norman Fong, Fr. Franklin Fong, Julie Gilgoff, Sharlene Hall, Bill Ong Hing, Rev. Vincent Jang, Greg Jue, Yvette Jimenez-Mota, Mary Fong Ko, Rev. Franco Kwan, Albert Lee, Brian Lee, Derek Lee, Erika Lee, Gordon Lee, Mary Leong, Larry Lew, Fr. Dan McCotter, Macrina Mota, Shirlene Leong Nakano, Sam Louie, Rev. Don Ng, Diana Rashid, Maria Sakovich, Justin Talbott, Eva Steligmann-Kennard, Anna Wong, Jeremy Wong, Eddie Wong, and Judy Young. A special thanks to Grace Urban Ministries for assisting in the conceptual development, editing and production of this publication. *The stories included in this book represent only the beginning. Many more, such as the story of the Paulist Catholic Fathers of St. Mary’s Church and the Stockton Sikh Gurdwara are forthcoming.

Deborah Lee, Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, CLUE-CA.
Craig Wong, Grace Urban Ministries.

Questions or comments about this publication? You may contact Deborah Lee at or Craig Wong at

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