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One Year into Biden Administration, 900 Faith Leaders, Religious and Immigrant Rights Groups Demand Biden Halt Immigration Detention

Washington, DC – Today, nine hundred spiritual leaders and multiple faith-based and immigrant rights groups delivered a letter to the White House urging the Biden administration to immediately halt all efforts to expand immigrant detention. With the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s inauguration approaching, the signatories – including Church World Service, Detention Watch Network, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, UCC National Collaborative on Immigration, and members of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition – expressed deep disappointment in the president for failing to keep his early promises to phase out private detention contracts.

In the letter, advocates highlight two immigrant detention facilities in Pennsylvania: the reopening of Moshannon Valley Correctional Center as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center and the expansion of the Berks County ICE detention center into an adult facility for women. These expansions take place as COVID-19 continues to surge across the country, underscoring the urgent need to free people from the harms of detention immediately. The letter signatories urged the Biden administration to reverse course and invest in community-based alternatives to detention and restore access to asylum.

Elissa Diaz, Advocacy Manager at Church World Service and Co-Chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, said: “The values of President Biden’s faith tradition are common across faith traditions represented in the Interfaith Immigration Coalition: to welcome the immigrant in our midst, to love our neighbors, and to proclaim freedom for the oppressed. President Biden’s decision to expand immigrant detention not only goes against these values of our faith, but also the promises he made to immigrants just one year ago. We urge the President to reverse course, return to the core callings of his faith, and put an end to his efforts to expand immigrant detention.”

Rev. Deborah Lee, Executive Director, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, said: “One common theme in our diverse religious traditions is the value of human freedom: the right to live freely, to not face deprivation of movement and confinement. Immigration detention is not morally acceptable or necessary in any form. We know effective community based alternatives to detention exist. People can navigate their immigration proceedings while living at home, maintaining their employment, and receiving support from their family and wider community. We ask the administration to stand with the faith community to find ways to reduce all forms of captivity in favor of non-carceral solutions.”

Marcela Hernandez, Organizing Director of Detention Watch Network, said: “Biden’s continued actions to expand the immigration detention system despite the administration’s ongoing promises to end the use of for-profit detention and roll back ICE’s fundamentally flawed system is shameful. Detention centers represent abuse, trauma, and sometimes death. People are losing their lives to a detention system that simply does not need to exist. The Biden Administration must shut down immigration detention facilities, end detention contracts, and release people from detention immediately.”

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World Without Walls: Global Day of InterAction

Dear Bay Area World Without Walls Community,

On this November 9, we write to you in solidarity with the global movement for a world without walls of expulsion, exclusion, and exploitation. COVID’s unveiling has revealed all the more clearly the devastation of walls of separation and oppression, as well as our need to band together to create the world we long to live in: a world of love and liberation, justice and mercy, hope and healing. Today we decry all visible and invisible walls of separation, walls that divide us geographically, economically and socially.

On this day, 31 years ago, the Berlin wall came down, ushering in a time of dismantling divisions, overcoming prejudices and reuniting peoples. This day is a reminder that all walls will ultimately come down, as long as we continue working together for a world that unites, humanizes and recognizes our collective existence. Tragically, over the past 31 years an era of wall constructing and wall profiteering has expanded. But as walls continue to be erected, all who are challenging these walls of injustice and inhumanity continue to unite and work together to create fissures, widen cracks and chip away at injustice. Our work is more important than ever, and the very future of our planet depends upon our success.

2022 marks the 20th anniversary since the beginning of construction of Israel’s wall that surrounds the West Bank and separates Palestinians from one another, their land, resources and the larger world. In solidarity with Palestinians, the global World Without Walls community is joining together to decry walls as false solutions to urgent concerns that plague our world. They will spend the next year circulating a series of Urgent Letters from the global community decrying the walls of injustice and inhumanity that surround us. Their first letter, “Our Time to Become Seeds of Justice,” challenges walls created by the climate crisis, and is written in response to the UN Climate Change Conference COP26. It calls on us to plant trees of resistance and nurture seeds of justice, while honoring martyrs like Berta Cáceres who led the way in this work. 

Throughout the upcoming year we will share these Urgent Letters to the global community as we commit anew to dream together, scheme together and work together to create a world without walls. Our humanity demands nothing less.

Thank you for joining us in this essential work.

In solidarity,

The Bay Area World Without Walls Coalition

About World Without Walls

In 2018, the Bay Area World Without Walls Coalition was formed to take part in the International Global Day of Interaction for a World Without Walls, commemorating the November 9, 1989 tearing down of the Berlin Wall. This international date is a call to dismantle all walls, which since World War II have risen from 7 to 77 across the globe. As a Bay Area Coalition, our focus has been on the 700-mile wall built by the US to stop migrants across the US-Mexico border, on the wall built by Israel to separate Israel from the West Bank and Palestinian villages from each other, and on the walls of incarceration that separate loved ones from the human family.

Bay Area World Without Walls Coalition members include: Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Friends of Sabeel North America, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Jewish Voice for Peace, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Middle East Children’s Alliance, and East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy / Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy. Pastor Allison Tanner, of Lakeshore Ave Baptist Church, is the coordinator of the Bay Area World Without Walls Coalition and author of this letter.

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Reparations: More Than A Check

Justice Not Jails First Thursdays presents

Reparations: More Than A Check

IM4HI and our special guests from Grassroots Reparations Campaign discuss the Reparations movement in the United States. The time is now for people who have benefited and continue to benefit from the blood, sweat, and tears, and free labor of enslaved people to atone for these past and enduring harms.

Learn how you and your faith community can take practical steps and embody tools to model reparative justice as a praxis in your congregation or faith group and to engage wider communities in learning about concrete ways to make Reparations owed to African-Americans a fulfilled promise.

Agenda:

  • Welcome & Centering
  • IM4HI-Values and Mission
  • Framing the Issue: Mr. Rod Wright & Rev. Larry Foy
  • Modeling Reparative Justice As Spiritual Practice: Ms. Donna Perkins
  • Dr. David Ragland, “Reparations is More than Writing a Check”
  • Call to Action