Created in 2015, the LA RED (Liberation. Action. Respect. Equity. Dignity) campaign works to create a platform for Faith in Action’s immigration work throughout the country, with a broader vision for racial & gender justice. Through this platform, LA RED focuses nationally on dismantling the mass deportation machine and immigrant detention, ending local contracts with ICE, and stopping the cooperation between local governments and ICE. In parallel, LA RED pursues pro-immigrant legislation through national and local efforts, as well as through holding officials accountable to an agenda of keeping families together. Long-term, LA RED seeks to replace the dominant narrative of othering and criminalization with one that affirms all immigrants are deserving of protection from unjust laws.
LA RED is led by Richard Morales, the campaign’s Policy and Program Director. The campaign is supported by multiple federations in the Faith In Action network, as well as multi-faith clergy and people of faith across the nation.
LA RED is committed to the protection and security of immigrant communities through various means of resistance, including deportation defense, sanctuary advocacy, preserving asylum protections for those fleeing murderous regimes and domestic violence, and fighting for the rights of all immigrants including undocumented workers and families, Dreamers, and those with Temporary Protected Status.
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A breakdown of our work is below:
Protecting the rights of the undocumented
LA RED stands with all 11 million undocumented people in the United States. We are committed to stopping the mass detention and deportation machine by working to cut the flow of money from Congress to ICE and Border Patrol. We advocate for a clean DREAM Act and for the protection of TPS recipients. LA RED stands with border communities in their fight against border militarization and a wall.
LA RED trains communities on four different community defense programs: Rapid Response, accompaniment, deportation defense, and sanctuary. LA RED has one of the largest Rapid Response Networks in the country. It is run by volunteers who quickly respond to ICE and Border Patrol activity, and are able to provide immediate assistance and community support to victims. Our congregations offer accompaniment, supporting individuals at their ICE check-ins, court dates, and through their deportation process. In many cases congregations and families chose to publicly fight a congregants’ deportation through deportation defense. Lastly, many of the congregations associated with LA RED offer sanctuary to the most vulnerable among us.
Deportation Defense Guide
In February 2018, LA RED published the organization’s first-ever Deportation Defense Guide for The Faith Community: Lifting Up Individual Deportation Cases in the Trump Era. The guide is to be used by faith leaders, organizers, and local leaders as a way to publicly elevate the stories of those facing family separation and deportation. Lifting up individual cases provides an opportunity to hold the administration accountable for abusive tactics, discriminatory patterns of enforcement, and to lift up stories of enforcement near sensitive locations, raids, racial profiling, in addition to arbitrary granting of prosecutorial discretion.
The guide outlines several actions that groups can take in order to assist a person in their deportation defense, including how to create a positive, humanizing narrative around a person’s case; the roles that family, community, and elected officials can play in elevating their story; the importance of holding public actions such as prayer vigils and press conferences; and how traditional and social media can help showcase the immediacy of attention needed in such a situation.
Deportation defense is an organizing tool to build power and protect immigrant communities. This guide is part of the ongoing support and tools available to the persons on the frontlines to stop deportations in their congregations, federations, and communities. The guide is free to download; click here to access it.
No One Stands Alone
Instead of resolving key immigration policy disputes over issues such as DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), most Republicans and some Democrats continue to back spending bills that expand militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. This militarization includes building a border wall that would be expensive and ineffective, increasing the number of border patrol agents and adding more immigration detention beds. These policies jeopardize the lives, and livelihoods, of immigrants, the majority of whom are Latino and Black and are already living with the heightened terror of being torn from their families and homes.
The bedrock of any immigration legislation must emphasize family unity and reject the expansion of border-related enforcement, detention, and security. LA RED supports comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) policies that would allow all undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
We also support the expansion of immigration programs to include the parents of DACA recipients, and workers who otherwise are not eligible for administrative relief.
In September 2018, LA RED and #DefundHate coalition partners helped defeat ICE’s special funding request for expanded immigrant detentions. The administration’s request for more funds was beaten down by advocacy groups. Leaders drove calls to congressional representatives, circulated petitions, signed a letter to congressional leadership and appropriators and conducted nine meetings with our senators’ and representatives’ staff to block approval of the increased funding. Not only did the coalition successfully stop ICE from receiving an extra billion dollars to bulk up immigrant detention, we also limited their power and the amount of funding they have for Fiscal Year ‘19’s budget negotiations.
With immigrants’ rights being challenged at all levels of government, Faith in Action and LA RED have been equally diligent in watchdogging policy developments at local and state levels of government. We work with cities and states to advocate for commitments to disentangle local law enforcement from ICE.
- Thanks, in part, to the persistent advocacy and narrative-shaping of FIA affiliates throughout California, we saw one of the strongest bills protecting immigrant families – Senate Bill 54 – pass in October 2017. SB54 vastly limits whom state and local law enforcement agencies can hold, question, and transfer at the request of federal authorities.
- In Indiana, a federal judge issued an injunction that prevents the Marion County Sheriff’s Office from detaining any person based solely on a detention request from ICE unless there is a warrant or probable cause. In Salem, MA, residents voted to keep in place the city’s Sanctuary for Peace ordinance.
- Faith in Action’s New Mexico federation, Organize New Mexico, worked with the city of Las Cruces to approve a resolution declaring the city a welcoming community for all, regardless of immigration status. Further, the City Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution prohibiting law enforcement from asking for proof of citizenship during police interactions.
- Faith in Action Alabama worked with the city of Birmingham to pass a resolution supporting sanctuary city status to stop immigration roundups and add local municipal ID cards.
- And in January 2018, the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia cancelled a controversial detention contract with federal immigration authorities and will no longer hold people in jail past their release date for ICE unless the request is accompanied by a court order.
The efforts of individual Faith in Action affiliates have also been successful in keeping families together when faced with threats of detention and deportation from ICE. Specific examples include:
In July 2018, Carlos Urrutia (right), a leader with ISAIAH Minnesota and Faith In Minnesota, was ambushed at a courthouse by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The documentation of the event by organizer Catalina Morales, and the media coverage that followed, proved favorable: Carlos was granted a temporary stay of deportation, and gained significant public support.
In March 2018, South Congregational Church welcomed Gisella Collazo, a woman from Peru and her two American-born children, into sanctuary as she faced imminent deportation and separation from her two children. Immigration and Customs Enforcement threatened the separation of their family by ordering Ms. Collazo to get on a plane by Tuesday, March 27, to return to Peru. As she and her family considered her options before seeking sanctuary, she said “they all ended in sadness.”
During her time in Sanctuary. Faith in Action, LA RED, and Massachusetts federation Pioneer Valley Project continued generating support. From media interviews to a clergy sign-on letter, our leaders and organizers did everything possible to show the extent of unjust treatment. Less than three months after entering Sanctuary, Gisella was granted a one-year stay of removal.
In March 2018, Cecilia Larios was freed from ICE Detention in Massachusetts on bail, after being detained since October 2017. Cecilia, who has lived in the United States for three years, was detained by ICE after appearing for a routine check-in with immigration authorities. During the four months that she was in detention, ICE refused her critical medical care. Once home, Cecilia was able to get the medical treatment she so desperately needed, and to be with her loving family. This victory is a direct result of the work by Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) leaders and clergy to enlist the support of Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Seth Moulton.
In San Francisco in March 2018, Floricel Liborio Ramos was released from ICE Detention after a year of being detained, denied bond multiple times, and separated from her three children and community. More than 70 community members and Faith in Action Bay Area leaders packed the courthouse for Floricel’s second habeas hearing, in which the judge ruled against the previous judge who had denied Floricel bail, and ordered her immediate release. When ICE delayed in carrying out the judge’s order to release Floricel. Immediately, Faith in Action Bay Area leaders turned up community pressure on ICE, directing dozens of calls to the ICE Supervising Deportation Officer to demand her release. After several hours of pressure, ICE announced Floricel would be immediately processed for her release and transported to San Francisco. Several hours later, she arrived as a free woman and was greeted with open arms by her community.
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