1. With record deportations ongoing and immigration reform once again being called a longshot, family and clergy members confronted Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson Wednesday.
2. Naira Zapata, the fiancé of Ardani Rosales, who was deported after a traffic violation, broke down crying in front of Johnson.
3. “She started crying to him, ‘Can you please release my husband?’” said DREAMer and activist, Erika Andiola.
Andiola said Johnson said “I’m sorry and I understand,” to Zapata and looked at her children.
4. The actions were put together by Church World Service and PICO, a national network of faith-based community organizations, that delivered a letter to him signed by 1,000 clergy members of different faiths.
5. The letter calls for “an immediate end to the senseless separation of American families.”
6. As well as for expanded deferred action for those who would benefit from immigration legislation.
7. Clergy leaders commented on why they believe immigration reform is the right thing to do according to their faith.
8. “I stand here today because I am a Jew. To be a Jew is to take on a sacred task: To remember that we were once strangers in a strange land and to treat citizen and stranger alike,” Rabbi Esther L. Lederman said.
“This policy of deportations is destroying the bedrock of what makes our congregations and society strong – our families. Our synagogues and churches are made up of families, moms and dads doing the best that they can to raise righteous citizens, decent human beings,” she added.
9. “The truth is, African-Americans didn’t come here, we were brought here, by a system that dehumanizes and exploits for profit. Today we see our brothers and sisters — undocumented workers — are kept in the shadows, and exploited for cheap labor.”
This was said by Rev. Dr. Earl Trent, the chair of Church World Service, who also took on the controversial Secure Communities program that gets the finger prints of people who are apprehended. “Secretary Jeh Johnson says that the Administration wants to fix Secure Communities, but this program is too broken to be fixed, it is beyond repair,” he said. “We can’t MEND S-Com, so we must END S-Com.”
10. Nayelly Sandoval, 12, said she wrote a letter to President Obama but received a response that didn’t make sense.
11. “A few weeks ago I got his response,” she said. “It wasn’t even about my family. It just said, ‘Dear student’ and had some general stuff about the White House. I don’t want pictures of his dogs. I want my dad back.”
12. Andiola said the day’s events are useful because it’s “a good way for him to understand there is a human cost to all of this.”
13. Andiola said House Majority leader Eric Cantor’s loss to an anti-immigration tea partier changed the calculations.
“Immigration reform is dead for now, so the best thing to do is to get the president to act,” she said.
14. Specifically her group of DREAMers has been calling for two things.
“Enforcement reforms” like changing who is a priority to detain and “administrative relief that would expand deferred action,” which would create a new group that is protected from the threat of deportation.