In the midst of a holy season for many, more than 800 faith leaders across religious and spiritual traditions sent a letter to President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas to take immediate action towards ending immigration detention, beginning by closing ten detention centers in 2021.
“In many of our sacred texts, migration stories are foundational in developing a moral framework that includes the right to move and live freely, be welcomed, and find belonging. We are morally compelled to seek ways to dramatically reduce all forms of incarceration in favor of systems of help, community support and non-carceral solutions.”
By Hilda Cruz, Regional Organizer, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity
Like many others, I was shocked to learn about the for-profit detention centers that were being built all over the country, including the one in the city of Adelanto. … Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, Detention Watch Network, and Dignity not Detention Coalition will continue to work with people in detention and helping their families share stories of this harmful practice to make it public through prayer vigils, actions, and events. …
Hilda Cruz, Regional Organizer, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity
I was an organizing leader on the inside, and I am eager to do all I can to further the movement to free all my brothers and sisters from the prison industrial complex and civil detention by ICE.
Charles Joseph, IM4HI 2021 Spiritual Activist in Residence
Charles Robert Joseph is IM4HI’s new Spiritual Activist in Residence!
IM4HI is proud to launch our Spiritual Activist in Residence position, investing in the leadership of those formerly incarcerated. This twelve-month paid residency program supports an individual who has survived both the criminal justice and immigration detention system, who can help to bridge silos in our movements and bring their skills and personal experience to enhance efforts of community outreach, public engagement, and movement building. This position will work in partnership with the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity and the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. We are grateful to IM4HI’s Founding Circle of donors, the New Breath Foundation, and the Heising Simons Foundation for their support in making this residency possible.
We are thrilled to introduce Charles Joseph as our inaugural Spiritual Activist in Residence. Charles was incarcerated in CDCR for twelve years and was granted parole only to be picked up and detained in ICE detention for eleven months. We have had the honor of walking with Charles and his family on his journey as a leader and organizer behind bars, to his recent liberation from immigration detention, and his current efforts seeking a pardon to stop his deportation.
Charles will be leading IM4HI’s work on the VISION Act to end ICE transfers, creating healing circles for Pacific Islanders and other formerly incarcerated, and conducting community education about the intersections of immigration and incarceration. His musical and spiritual gifts will be a huge asset in reaching out to those directly impacted and advocating for policies that will transform systems of punishment into pathways to prevention and healing.
If you’d like to organize a screening and discussion of the film “Bula” about Charles’ journey, or know of Pacific Islander faith communities to engage in this work, please contact Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to movement building with Charles!
More About Charles
Charles “Bula” Joseph brings with him the life experience of being incarcerated for twelve years, and detained by ICE in Mesa Verde for eleven months. During his incarceration, the Native American Sweat Lodge was a big part of Charles’ transformation. After being invited and permitted to participate in their sacred ceremony, Charles began to heal from the inside and uplift others by teaching music, art, cultural chants and dances that were performed for events in the facility. Charles organized and performed concerts on the prison yard to boost morale and in the visiting room to create a pleasant environment. Charles was elected by his peers into the Men’s Advisory Council that was tasked with maintaining peace in the facility and bringing grievances to the captain and warden.
While Charles was born and raised in a strict Catholic family, he identifies as a Rastafarian. His life journey in studies of people’s belief has taught him that faith is essential, especially to have hope in dire times. Within incarceration, Charles has meditated with Buddhist brothers, fasted with Muslim brothers, been part of sacred ceremonies with Native American brothers, prayed in temple with Hindu brothers, celebrated with Sikh brothers, and led ceremony with Pacific Island brothers.
In the role as Spiritual Activist in Residence, Charles will bring his knowledge and journey of being impacted to deepen the faith-rooted organizing around issues of incarceration and immigration. Charles hopes to be a messenger for oneness, that all faiths are a branch of spirituality, like all rivers, lakes, oceans, and single puddles are all water.