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AL DÍA News file photo.
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Over 275 local clergy to condemn ICE raids

A coalition of Pennsylvania clergy will deliver an open letter to the Obama Administration Tuesday demanding an end to deportation raids.

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Over 275 clergy from southeastern Pennsylvania have signed a letter to condemn the ongoing raids on undocumented immigrant families, which have led to the apprehension of at least 121 Central American immigrants in the U.S. since the beginning of the year.

The letter will be hand-delivered Tuesday to Immigration and Custom Enforcement's office in Philadelphia. Both members of the clergy as well as undocumented families will be present.

New Sanctuary Movement, which organized the action, said that Angela Navarro will be present at the office. In 2014, Navarro, an undocumented mother whose children are U.S. citizens, avoided deportation by taking refuge in a Philadelphia church. Her story attracted national attention.

The full letter can be read below:

Dear President Obama, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, ICE Director Sarah Saldana, and Pennsylvania ICE Field Office Director Thomas Decker,

We, the undersigned clergy, faith leaders, and women religious in Pennsylvania, urge you to immediately stop the ICE raids targeting Central American families seeking asylum that began on January 2, 2016.

In the face of international refugee crises with thousands of families fleeing violence and extreme poverty, our diverse faiths call us to react with compassion and work to enact just policies that reflect our shared faith values of justice, dignity, and hospitality for all, regardless of immigration status and country of origin. Our shared faith teachings call us to welcome immigrants into our communities.

In Matthew 25:35 in the Christian Bible, Jesus says “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” The Muslim Qu’ran states “Was not the earth of God spacious enough for you to flee for refuge?” (4:97). The Jewish Torah says “The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

Deporting families to potential death in Central America is an unconscionable act that violates these sacred values.

We know that Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are among the most dangerous countries in the world. As faith leaders, we see the trauma inflicted on families and communities when a loved one is deported. Immigrants are our congregants, neighbors, families, and friends. We believe that we are all made in the image of God, including Central American refugees and call for policies that reflect the Godliness present in all of us.

The heightened fear because of the unjust ICE raids has resulted in immigrant workers not going to their jobs, children not going to school, and patients not seeking medical treatment. This has a domino effect across our state: Pennsylvania benefits greatly from the presence of hundreds of thousands of immigrants in our state. Immigrant communities have revitalized our cities and towns; brought values of hard work, faith and family; and support critical sectors of our economy.

In the face of a humanitarian crisis, we urge you to act with moral courage to stop the raids and mass deportations, address the root causes of migration, and welcome our immigrant brothers and sisters in a way that is consistent with our faith values.

As Pennsylvania clergy, we are united against the ICE raids and urge you to immediately stop this traumatizing practice. We work and pray for more just and humane policies that keep families together and decreases the violence rampant in Central America and across the globe.

A complete list of those who signed the letter can be found here. Most of the clergy are based in Philadelphia and Flourtown.

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