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CURRENT ISSUE:  April 9, 2007 • VOL. 45, NO. 7 • Oakland, CA

Faith leaders oppose ICE raids in Bay Area

Mary Doyle, social justice coordinator in the Oakland Diocese, addresses a press conference on immigration reform on the steps of Mission San Rafael, March 30.

Bay Area faith leaders met at Mission San Rafael on March 30 to call for a temporary suspension of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials pending a comprehensive reform of immigration laws.

The leaders, including San Francisco Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius Wang, Episcopal Bishop Marc Andrus and Rabbi Henry Schreibman, said the raids generate fear in the local immigrant communities and the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants is splitting up families.

Mary Doyle, representing the Oakland Diocese in her capacity as social justice resource coordinator, called upon the government “to respect both the rights and dignity of those without legal documents.”
“We support changes in immigration laws that reunite families and provide for legalization. That’s what we are hoping to see happen soon, very soon.”

The raids have occurred throughout the Bay Area, beginning in late January in Richmond and Concord and spreading to Redwood City, San Rafael and Novato – all cities with significant immigrant populations. The Marin County raids on March 6 and 7 yielded 65 arrests and 23 deportations.
According to ICE statistics, between Oct. 1 and Jan. 26, more than 800 undocumented immigrants were arrested in northern and central California.

The raids are part of Operation Return to Sender, an initiative of the Homeland Security Department to identify and arrest immigrants with deportation orders, especially those who have committed crimes. ICE agents also have the discretion to question people not on their list.

Bishop Wang said the manner in which ICE is conducting its raids is not “right or just or moral or tolerable.”

“We all are immigrants in some way or another and why should we treat other immigrants as aliens? If the government wants to secure the borders, it’s right, but if they treat human beings inhumanly, it’s not right.”

The leaders said they are prepared to organize for just immigration reform at local, state and federal levels that will offer a path of citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

Since June 2004, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network have called for making comprehensive immigration reform a major public policy priority for the Church.



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