News & Media

For Immediate Release – March 22, 2018 

Contact: Erin Williams 202-748-0699

ewilliams@piconetwork.org

Faith Community Condemns Congressional Investment In President Trump’s Detention, Deportation, and Border Militarization Machine

WASHINGTON – A coalition of immigrant justice advocates today condemned federal officials for pumping billions of dollars into what can best be described as President Trump’s detention and deportation machine. While Congress reached an agreement to fund the federal government for six months, the groups decried the fact that they did so at the expense of undocumented immigrants by including billions of dollars in funding to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The additional funding will empower DHS to hire additional Homeland Security Investigation agents, hire 135 new immigration agents and attorneys, pump $1.6 billion for additional border fences, walls and levees and add $370-million-dollars to expand the immigrant detention bed system.

The record-setting funding has the potential to increase the number of detention beds to 40,354. Richard Morales, policy and program director for PICO National Network’s LA RED program, Johana Bencomo, director of organizing at PICO federation NM CAFé, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, and the Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, today issued the following response:

“The omnibus adds money to the already bloated DHS budget and President Trump’s disturbing mass deportation machine,” said Morales. “Funneling more money to DHS is a threat to our American values and our economy. Lawmakers have all but forgotten about actually fighting for all families, and have turned immigrants into a pawn and a moneymaker for private prison companies and local governments cooperating to deport immigrants. Next year, we know the hate filled anti-immigrants in Congress and the administration will ask for more money. I wonder, when will Democrats, who claim they will not stand by and watch families be torn apart, show real leadership and say enough is enough and call for defunding DHS instead of further increases?”

“Border communities have been clear from the beginning of negotiations, we will not stand for the further militarization of our communities,” said Bencomo.“While the budget excludes funding for more Border Patrol agents, it still leaves Trump’s largest deportation force without accountability and oversight. Border Communities know the fight is far from over, as negotiations for the FY19 approach, we will continue to push back against the funding of a mass deportation machine that includes a racist wall, more deportation agents, and more sinful detention beds.”

“Our immigrant and refugee families are children of God first and foremost – and therefore worthy of our compassion and support – not a ‘problem’ to be feared, detained and deported,” said Tobin. “Any increase in new funds for interior enforcement in cities all across America is a step in the wrong direction, making it likely that even more of our immigrant families will be torn apart in the year ahead through arbitrary targeting, incarceration and deportation.”

“Congress and the Trump administration should be focused on reducing gun violence in our communities and providing relief to the families in Puerto Rico who are still without power 6 months after the hurricane, not on demonizing and deporting our immigrant brothers and sisters,” said Salguero. “Let’s remember that the United States has always benefited from the energy and dreams that immigrants and refugees bring to our nation.”

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PICO National Network is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. PICO works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 60 local and state federations. PICO and its federations are non-partisan and do not endorse or support candidates for office. PICO urges people of faith to consult their faith traditions for guidance on specific policies and legislation. Learn more at www.piconetwork.org.

Created in 2015, LA RED is a program of PICO National Network focused on immigrant rights, indigenous rights, education, and advocacy. LA RED is committed to the protection and security of immigrant communities through various means of resistance, including deportation defense, sanctuary advocacy and fighting for the rights of all immigrants including undocumented workers and families, DREAMers, and TPS holders.

NM Comunidades en Accion y de Fe (CAFé), a faith-based grassroots organization working to empower immigrant and other marginalized communities through organizing to shape and redefine policies and narratives that promote opportunity for all. NM CAFé is an affiliate of the PICO National Network based out of Las Cruces, a Southern border community, in New Mexico.

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