For Immediate Release – March 26, 2019
Contact: Gebe Martinez, email@example.com | 703-731-9505
Kathryn Johnson, AFSC, (206) 898-2832, firstname.lastname@example.org
#InvestinLove Capitol Hill rally with IL Rep. “Chuy” Garcia occurs as House fails to override Trump’s veto of resolution blocking his “national emergency” declaration to build wall without congressional authority
WASHINGTON, DC — With Congress facing increasing pressure from the White House to ramp up spending on anti-immigrant programs that target communities of color, faith leaders, joined by IL Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia at a Capitol Hill rally, demanded funding cuts for immigration enforcement agencies and investment in fostering strong, safe, and vibrant families and communities.
The #InvestInLove rally, led by Faith In Action’s immigrants’ rights campaign, LA RED, American Friends Service Committee, Bend the Arc, Church World Service, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation, urged Congress to divest from oppressive and immoral systems of detention, deportation, and border militarization, including Trump’s wall. The leaders urged instead that Congress invest in community priorities, including health care, education, gun violence prevention programs, and infrastructure, all of which bolster local economies and create jobs. Ralliers held signs calling for Congress to “Invest in love, Invest in hope, Invest in our future.”
“Invest in love is a moral challenge by the faith community to fiscal priorities in Congress that fund hate and violence in our communities,” said Richard Morales, Policy and Program Director of Faith in Action’s immigration campaign LA RED, in introducing the #InvestinLove initiative. “It is a challenge to Congress to set a higher standard for what it means to care for their constituents, our families, friends and our neighbors.”
Socorro Vazquez, a community leader with LA Voice, stated her request simply: “I’m a single mother and I’ve been living in this country for 26 years. We are visiting Congress today to let them that we don’t need to continue to fund hate and separating families because that is painful.”
Itzel Hernandez, with the American Friends Service Committee, told the story of a young sophomore in high school, who lives in fear that her mother will be forced to return to Mexico. The young woman, who was assaulted in Mexico, is afraid to return with her mother and encounter her attacker. “We cannot continue to invest billions of dollars into agencies that continue to put our communities, friends, parents, and loved ones in danger,” Hernandez said. “Imagine what would happen if we invested that money into our school system, into our health care, into community projects, into our youths, into our future. What a country would we be? Where we would be then, if we decided to start investing in love and compassion and commitment and understanding rather than hatred and fear?”
The rally – led by the faith community – took place on Capitol Hill as the House failed to get the two-thirds vote needed to override Trump’s veto of a resolution blocking his “national emergency” declaration to build wall without congressional authority. The administration announced on Tuesday that $1 billion in defense spending would be moved over to the wall construction project that resulted from the president’s fervor to satisfy his anti-immigrant political base despite broad congressional and public disapproval.
Diane Randall, executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation — which brought over 500 advocates to lobby Congress this week — urged communities not to let Congress be intimidated by the president’s mean tweets as he demonizes immigrants and refugees seeking safety and fleeing violence.“Congress has a choice to make, and FCNL advocates are here to ask them to act, not out of fear, but out of love. Quakers believe that within every one of us there is the infinite power of Light and Love,” Randall said. “Reject funding for detention, deportation and further border militarization.”
Father Manuel Ibarra, Santa Ana Catholic Church in Deming, Luna County, New Mexico, noted how the border militarization hurts a community already suffering from lack of jobs and fear of enforcement agencies. “We don’t even have a clinic available for people who are sick or have emergencies.
The border militarization does not help our people. We are constantly being monitored, stopped because the color of our skin, or physical appearance; being watched over by helicopters and other officials,” the priest said. “We need better lives, better funding to invest in our families so that the can have a better future because we, too, represent America.”
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Washington Director of Bend the Arc, said immigrants being used as scapegoats “by politicians seeking to whip up fear to gain power is completely unacceptable, and it’s dangerous.” As Jews from across the country have met with their congressional representatives and visited detention centers, their message has been: cut funding for ICE and CBP. “We need accountability for these out of control agencies that are breaking up families and destroying immigrant communities and lives.
Orquidia Tamara Hernandez, a terminally ill asylee from Guatemala who has, perhaps only one year to live, spent several months in detention and hopes she can soon see her son, who has been detained for 15 months. “I ask God to touch the hearts of those who govern this land, and that judges be allowed to judge each case, so that they can give me the opportunity to see my son free,” she said.
Senior Minister Abhi Janamanchi, Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, spoke of Rosa Gutierrez Lopez, who is in sanctuary at his church in Bethesda, MD. “Sanctuary is saying ‘yes,’ to our deepest religious and spiritual values that compel us to care for the vulnerable, welcome the immigrant, pay workers what they deserve, and organize society around the needs of the poor. Sanctuary is calling on our elected officials to swiftly work to fix our broken immigration system, so that congregations such as our no longer have to use sanctuary to protect human lives,” Janamanchi said.
#InvestInLove events are being held throughout the week in California, Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Texas.
The video of Capitol Hill rally and press event can be viewed on the LA RED Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LaRedFaithInAction.
Faith in Action, formerly known as PICO National Network, is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. The nonpartisan organization works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 46 local and state federations. For more information visit www.faithinaction.org.
Faith in Action is a 501c(3). Faith in Action and its affiliates are non-partisan and are not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party. We do not endorse or support candidates for office.