Faith and Community Leaders Take Action to Stop the Separation of Families

Twenty-four arrested during peaceful civil disobedience at immigration detention center in Broadview, IL. 

Chicago responds to immigrant rights crisis in Arizona, demanding President Obama and Congress take deliberate legislative action to stop separation of families

Yesterday, April 27, two dozen student, labor, civic and faith leaders were arrested by Broadview police as they took part in nation-wide escalating actions to demand President Barack Obama to put an end to raids and deportations. This civil disobedience took place after an all-night vigil where three hundred Chicagoans expressed their discontent with the lack of action by the Obama administration and in solidarity with immigrants in Arizona in response to the passage of SB 1070.

The vigil signals the lengths to which concerned community members will go to stop the destruction and separation of families in Arizona, Illinois, and throughout the United States if the April 30th deadline for legislative action by the senate on immigration reform is not met.

Click here to watch a video by Jim Morris, member of Wellington Ave United Church of Christ 

"I am doing this for my students and my family who are undocumented. It's heart breaking to see the separation of families," said Salvador Jimenez, 24, one of the participants in the civil disobedience action, and a local artist and teacher. "Getting arrested is nothing compared to the struggle that people are already going through by being undocumented. It's time for legalization."

On April 23rd, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, one of the harshest anti-immigrant bills in history into law, setting a precedent for further local anti-immigrant legislation throughout the U.S. By failing to act on comprehensive immigration legislation the Obama administration continues to create an environment of fear amongst our communities.

"Every day that our legislators fail to act on immigration reform 1,100 families are torn apart. That's a higher deportation rate than under any other U.S. president" declared event organizer Yesenia Sanchez, with West Suburban Action Project (PASO). "We need to demand that President Obama keep his promises."

This peaceful civil disobedience action comes on the heels of months of criticism for the President's deportation policy, and increasing enforcement state legislation

·         In 2009, reports of abuse and neglect in American immigration detention centers littered the news.  Mary Meg McCarthy of the National Immigrant Justice Center called the unregulated system a "human rights nightmare."

·         In January, annual ICE filings showed that the Obama administration, in its first year, deported more immigrants than any year under President Bush.  This report called into question commitments made by President Obama to focus deportations on violent criminals.

·         In February, a New York Times report exposed substandard conditions at detention centers across the country.

·         On March 21, more than 200,000 marchers descended on Washington, DC to urge the President to fulfill his promise of comprehensive immigration reform and to stop destroying families through deportation.

·         Days later, the Washington Post (3/27) published internal ICE memos that show the gap between what the agency says publicly and does privately.  Though Morton has repeatedly said the agency's focus is serious criminals ("the worst of the worst"), the February internal memo to Field Office Directors stated that "non-criminal removal projections" - already on-pace for 159,740 - were "well short of our FY10 goal."

·         That was followed by a New York Times report (3/29) "Disabled Immigration Detainees Face Deportation" which exposed a pattern of mistreatment toward disabled immigrants. In one example, a 50 year-old legal permanent resident from New York with schizophrenia headed for a mental institution was diverted to a South Texas detention center to "face a deportation proceeding without counsel."

·         On April 23rd, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, one of the harshest anti-immigrant bills in history, into law. This law would create a racial reign of terror in which police racial profiling is mandated.

"We are here as communities of faith because it is painful to see children being separated from their parents. It kills us spiritually and it kills our families. Our faith requires us to be here denouncing these actions, for which the administration of President Obama is responsible," concluded Father Jose Landaverde, from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, and another participant in the civil action disobedience.

Those Arrested Include:

Father Jose Landaverde, Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Church
Jeff Bartow, Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP)
Rabbi Joshua Salter, Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation, SWOP
Joshua Hoyt, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)
Miguel Gutierrez, Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL)
Noemi Martinez, Immigrant Youth Justice League
Salvador Jimenez, Immigrant Youth Justice League
Laura Garza, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Father Brendan Curran, St. Pius V Church
Father Mike Shanahan, Our Lady of Lourdes Church
Father Charles W. Dahm, St. Pius V Church
Candearia Sanchez, PASO- West Suburban Action Project
Jane Ramsey, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA)
Tom Walsh, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Irma Romero, Laico Adalberto UMC
Pastor Freddy Santiago, Rebaño Church
Pablo Berndhardt, Centro Sin Fronteras
Olivia Segura, Centro Sin Fronteras
Emma Lozano, Centro Sin Fronteras
Pastor Pedro Windsor, Capilla del Barrio
Marbella Gomez, PASO- West Suburban Action Project
Margarita Klein, Workers United

News Coverage

WGN 9

ABC 7

NBC 5

Fox Chicago

WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

WBBM News Radio 780

Chicago Breaking News

Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago Tribune

Huffington Post

Washington Post

La Raza