WASHINGTON – Today, the D.C. City Council Passed the Sanctuary Values Emergency Amendment Act of 2019. This bill is an important first step toward ending collaboration between D.C. agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), extending a layer of privacy and protection for many immigrants being held in the district’s jails and juvenile detention facility. Unfortunately, the bill contains significant carve-outs that put hundreds of DC immigrant residents held on behalf of the federal government at risk. These carve-outs were made in response to a financial impact statement from the Mayor’s office, alleging that the legislation would have jeopardized D.C. contracts in holding detainees on behalf of the federal government. The Congregation Action Network (CAN), Faith in Action’s immigration advocacy group for the D.C. area, is committed to continuing the fight for a clean bill that would protect all D.C. residents.Calvary Episcopal Church Pastor Peter Jarrett-Schell, a leader with the Congregation Action Network, has issued the following statement.
“We are grateful to the D.C. Council for passing this important first step toward protecting the safety and dignity of D.C. residents. This bill offers concrete protections, but we are keenly aware that this legislation leaves many D.C. residents at risk. We were ham-stringed at the last minute, in a bad-faith effort from the Mayor’s office to sabotage this bill by technicality. The District profits by holding detainees on behalf of the Federal government. To protect those profits, the city government has left District residents vulnerable and exposed. It is as if they’ve sold our neighbors for thirty pieces of silver.
“For far too long, the policies of our city government have put the lie to its claims of being a Sanctuary city. How can we claim to oppose the actions of the current presidential administration, yet allow ICE to hold this kind of power? The D.C. Department of Corrections has shared private information about undocumented residents with ICE more than a thousand times over the past three years, resulting in raids, family separation, and immeasurable anxiety and fear that runs through our community.
“CAN has been working for months to bring attention to our need for having a provision like this in place. We are grateful for the council’s leadership, and understand the political realities of their situation. But we will get a clean bill, and we will not stop advocating for fair treatment. Many immigrants are afraid to call the police or seek medical help when they are in trouble, for fear of being arrested and possibly deported. This bill had the chance to say, ‘We see you, and we are here to protect you,’ to all D.C. residents. Despite the bill’s shortcomings, we resolve to continue moving forward in our work fostering protection for all immigrants in the D.C. area, and we will continue to band together to protect our neighbors and accomplish the work of our faith.”
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