Carol Edwards, member of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, TX and an Austin New Sanctuary Movement volunteer, shares the story of how her congregation embraced sanctuary.
Two years ago, my congregation began discussing whether we could offer sanctuary to immigrants at risk of deportation. Amid questions and concerns about legal risks and liability, physical space and logistics, one board member asked: “If we don’t do this, what do we do?” Called by our values to uphold the inherent worth and dignity of every person, we took a leap of faith and voted, “Yes!”
One month ago this week, we at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, with the support of the Austin New Sanctuary Movement, welcomed Alirio Gámez, an asylum-seeker from El Salvador, into our church. Despite Alirio’s good-faith efforts to pursue a legal asylum claim, he lost his case in the courts. Although El Salvador has one of the highest murder rates in the world, only 17 of every 100 El Salvadorians applying for asylum are approved.
ACT NOW and send an e-mail in support of Alirio to ICE officials through our partners at Grassroots Leadership.
This month we’ve seen the federal government escalate threats to both undocumented and legal immigrants. Late last month, a series of raids dubbed “Operation Safe City” intentionally targeted immigrants living in sanctuary cities and states. On Sunday, October 8, the White House announced a set of extreme anti-immigrant proposals. In exchange for protecting Dreamers, they would slash the number of family and diversity visas and cut protections for asylum-seekers including unaccompanied minors, among xenophobic proposals.
In taking the courageous public stance of sanctuary, Alirio aims to improve the conditions for all undocumented immigrants and asylum-seekers. “With this campaign, [we] can win a change in how the government of the United States treats immigrants. As human beings, we have a right to life and to respect – and for this reason I escaped from violence in my country. I have the right to live.”
Please join me and the Austin New Sanctuary Movement in calling on local Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials Norma Lacy, ICE San Antonio Field Office Director; and Daniel Bible, field office director of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) San Antonio to close the deportation case of Alirio Gámez.