Accompaniment and Advocacy in the Bay Area

On Sunday, April 2, students from Jesuit High School Sacramento, St. Ignatius Prep, and Sacred Heart in Atherton gathered together with the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity at the Richmond Detention Center to celebrate Passover and witness to the humanity of undocumented immigrants and the injustice of immigrant detention. People shared personal stories, family stories, and stories of friends or acquaintances who have been impacted by detention. We prayed and sang together, and we made all the noise we could to let people inside know we were there. A group who had met Yesenia, an asylum seeker in Tucson who was detained for over a year, shared her story.

Afterwards, we gathered at the Jesuit School of Theology to use their space to reflect, deepen our awareness of challenges facing immigrants, and prepare for lobbying the next day. Miriam, a JST student who works with Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, spoke to us about her experience being undocumented and how her faith has empowered her to claim her own dignity and rights, as well as work towards building bridges among undocumented folks and allies. She challenged our group to build relationships with people in our communities who are undocumented and consider solidarity as “mutual belonging.” We then learned together about California’s SB54, which is meant to disentangle ICE from state and local Law Enforcement Agencies. We brought to mind Ascension, an immigrant who Sacred Heart walked with last year when he was flagged for removal from ICE after being arrested (not convicted), even though he had an asylum case and U-visa case open at the time. The students role-played in preparation to meet with their legislators and gave each other feedback. We prayed together and went home to get some rest.

Sunday, April 3: Jesuit Sacramento and Sacred Heart students then met up at the Capitol and joined PICO and SEIU in a rally and further training around key immigration bills. We met with our Assemblymember Marc Berman to ask him to champion the rejection of any amendments that might weaken the intentions of SB54 when it makes it to Assembly. You’ll see a picture of him confirming a “Yes” vote below! We then met with Senator Hill to thank him for his “Yes” vote on SB54 through the appropriations committee and in the final vote, and we asked him to attend a local immigration footwashing ceremony in his district to further show our community that he wants to create a safe and hospitable community for all. This ceremony takes place next week in front of the sheriff’s office, and we asked Senator Hill to make a statement that he stands with immigrants and human dignity and is willing to challenge the sheriff’s union’s desires to keep communication with ICE so that they can make money by holding immigrants in their local jails.

Gathering for a vigil at Richmond Detention Center to bear witness

 

Marc Berman confirms his “yes” vote on SB54

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