Sacred texts call us to welcome migrants with acts of hospitality, and to free the prisoners.
As people of faith across diverse traditions, we believe we share a common humanity, even with those who have made mistakes; that they too have families, are part of our communities, and are worthy of opportunities for rehabilitation and redemption. Our core values teach us that everyone deserves justice, compassion, human rights and humane treatment, regardless of the color of their skin, their immigration status, or their worst action.
The US has the world’s largest immigration detention system which is part of the world’s largest prison system. Policies of incarceration and detention harm children, separate families, and dehumanize people each day. We call for approaches that dismantle root causes, promote rehabilitation, increase public accountability and oversight, and heal the breaches in our society.
We campaign to end the punishment framework of the carceral system, and to shift criminal justice dollars towards rehabilitation and public safety based on human needs such as housing, education, healthcare, mental health support and meaningful employment to all. We advocate for policies to protect those targeted by ICE detention, deportation and other anti-immigrant policies.
Learn more about our faith-rooted organizing in the video below.
- Implementing the End of Private Prisons and Detention Centers in California
- Freedom Campaigns: Keep Them Home — Get ICE out of CA Prisons
- Justice Not Jails — Reform LA Jails
- Honduran Faith Solidarity — Root Causes of Migration
Implementing the End of Private Prisons and Detention Centers in California
On October 11, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 32 into law, banning the use of privately owned prisons and detention centers in the state. The decision was a victory for Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity and its allies, who have been educating the public and advocating an end to for-profit prisons and detention facilities for years. The new law will have a dramatic impact on immigration detention in California, and is a precedent for other states.
As part of the AB 32 Coalition, we helped to legislate an end to private prisons and detention centers in the state of California that earn financial profit from the incarceration and detention of thousands of Californians. These companies in collusion with the Department of Homeland Security are already seeking ways to circumvent this new law.
After passage of AB 32 in October 2019, we are working on accountability, ensuring that this law be implemented in a way will bring release of detainees, and put the needs of immigrants and their families first.
In December 2019 we published an 8-page report, “Lessons from the ICE detention contract termination in Contra Costa County, CA,” gathering what we learned from the closure of the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, CA last year, and offering recommendations to inform efforts on a just implementation of AB 32 closures (and other closures around the country.)
Freedom Campaigns: Keep Them Home – Get ICE out of CA Prisons
In California, prison and ICE collaboration impacts immigrants and refugees who have served time in state prison. Instead of returning to their families, immigrants who are found suitable for parole are directly transferred into ICE detention facilities where they await deportation.
This form of double-punishment and exile is cruel and separates families. As the faith community, we are called to practice forgiveness, generosity and compassion for immigrants, and those who are incarcerated.
Charles Joseph is an example of one community member impacted by this prison and ICE collaboration. Charles is a father, husband, artist, musician, and Indo-Fijian leader. He came to the U.S. from Fiji as a permanent resident as a teenager. After being imprisoned at age 22, Charles transformed his life while serving his 13 year sentence by participating in violence prevention programs and developing his artistic talent. However, after winning parole, because of current policy, he was transferred directly into ICE detention and is now facing deportation.
“Charles’ story illustrates the immorality of our legal system, where his conduct as a 22 year old youth is being used to permanently deprive him of the basic right to go home, and reunite with his family and community.” says his lawyer, Francisco Ugarte, SF Public Defender
If Charles is deported to Fiji it would create more trauma for his family. His wife Shelly says, “With my husband in detention it’s already a separation, but for him to think that he may not be able to come home and the uncertainty makes it unstable for me and my family emotionally and physically. A pardon will be our last hope to finally become complete and be a family.”
Sign and share his petition: bit.ly/BringCharlesHome
Justice Not Jails – Reform LA Jails
Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity is part of the Reform LA Jails coalition which is bringing a proposition, the Reform Jails and Community Reinvestment Initiative, to the March 2020 election in Los Angeles county. As people of faith we seek real alternatives and public investment to reform and promote humane and effective alternatives to the current system. The root causes of the carceral system and the root causes and conditions that lead people to make poor decisions must be addressed. Our faith traditions call us to be agents of healing, justice, reconciliation, renewal, and restoration. We are all worthy and capable of rehabilitation and redemption.
In response to community demands, in January 12, 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to implement a Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission with the mission to improve public transparency and accountability for the Sheriff’s Department– but it did not have the power to subpoena individuals and records.
Two years later, Los Angeles is still plagued with misconduct in the Sheriff’s Department including deputies trafficking drugs, deputies raping female inmates under the color of authority, deputies assigned to narcotics skimming money, the continuous widespread reports of inmates being mistreated in our jails, and the countless “suicides” of inmates who were allegedly under the watchful eye of deputies.
To identify, expose and end corruption and misconduct in the Sheriff’s Department, the Civilian Oversight Commission must have the power to subpoena records and to compel the testimony of deputies and their superiors accused of wrongdoing.
The Reform Jails and Community Reinvestment Initiative will ensure that the Civilian Oversight Commission has the tools necessary to do its job. If passed, the Initiative will also task the Civilian Oversight Commission with developing a Comprehensive Public Safety Reinvestment Plan and Feasibility Study to reduce jail populations and to redirect the cost savings to alternatives to incarceration.
Come to our monthly First Thursdays Justice Not Jails gathering to get involved.
Honduran Faith Solidarity — Root Causes of Migration
In response to the noticeable increase of Central American newly arrived migrant families and children, we began a quest to campaign to deepen our knowledge into the root causes of migration from Guatemala and Honduras. the Northern Triangle countries. As people of faith we have a responsibility to respond to those who come seeking safety and the well-being of their families.
Since 2016, we have co-led six faith delegations to Honduras who have deepened our understanding of the root causes of migration from the region: regional inequality, militarism, discrimination, climate change, national and global economic and political policies which displace and impoverish. We must address the root causes that are connected to US policy and its complicity in the forces driving them out.
Read our report and recommendations from the most recent delegation.
2019 Delegation Report: US Responsibility and Roadmap for Change
Root Causes Delegation Blog
Actions you can take:
Urge your Member in the House of Representatives to co-sponsor the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act H.R. 1945 (see list here). The Act calls for suspension of all U.S. security aid to Honduras. Congressional Switchboard is (202) 224-3121. When you call your Representative’s office, ask to speak to the foreign policy aide. Get more info on the Berta Caceres Bill: https://www.solidaritycollective.org/bertacaceresact
Provide international solidarity to Honduras communities who are fighting for the right to stay home by defending their communities, water and land. Given the undue influence the U.S. government has in Honduras, it is the responsibility of the U.S. solidarity and faith community to speak out against the ongoing criminalization of human rights and environmental protectors, such as the Guapinol 32.
Sign up to support Honduran Faith Solidarity: bit.ly/HonduranSolidarity
Past Policy Advocacy
Ending Incarceration and Detention:
- Ending for-profit private prisons and detention centers in CA
- Preventing building of new Child Detention Facility in Inland Empire
- Ending the immigration detention at West County Detention Facility in Northern California
- Stopping jail expansions: the LA Men’s Jail, West County Detention Facility, relocation of the LA Women’s Jail
- CA Trust ACT to limit police-ICE collaboration
- Cambodian Pardons Campaign
- Defending Sanctuary City Policies
- Establishing the Civilian Oversight committee of the LA Sheriff
- CA Truth ACT for transparency of Sheriff-ICE collaboration
Creating Community Alternatives to Immigration Detention
- Creating a Sanctuary network of accompaniment teams and housing hospitality for those fighting deportation
- Post Release Accompaniment Program at West County Detention Facility