Vowing Support for DACA Recipients, Interfaith Coalition Says “No Human is Illegal”

by Susan Fried

On Sunday September 24, faith leaders from diverse religious traditions gathered for “No Human Being is Illegal An Interfaith Response Supporting DACA”  at Columbia City Church of Hope. Clergy members spoke about working together to support DACA recipients and undocumented people.  

Pastor Darla DeFrance of Columbia City Church of Hope spoke of Jesus having literally identified as being homeless and a refugee. Addressing those gathered, she asked, “how do we support our sisters and brother who are threatened with being cast out, how do we partner with each other across the lines of faith and race and citizenship to be a place of refuge?”

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Pastor Darla DeFrance and Reverend John Stean -Ebenezer AME Zion Church [Photo: Susan Fried]
All the faith leaders in attendance spoke about the moral duty people of faith have to speak out against inhumane policies effecting the vulnerable. They all also cited beliefs in their own religious traditions that spoke of the need to take care of, “the neighbor who is a stranger”.   

Dr. Jasmit Singh with The Sikh Coalition said news of undocumented people being threatened leaves him with no other option but to take a stand. “It’s a call to action.  It’s no longer a call to just speak about it, We all have the ability to make change”.  

The Reverend Shalom Agtarap with the PNW Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Imam Benjamin Shabazz also echoed Singh’s sentiments.

The Reverend John Stean of (Ebenezer) AME Zion Church quoted scripture and vowed for his congregation to take action, “We intend to love mercy, not just for ourselves and those who look like and speak and live and love like us but for all those God calls family; we intend to do justice not just tweet it, post it or put a sign in our yard but to live it with our expenditures of time and energy, resources and risk and we intend to walk humbly, drawing our listening ears, opening hearts and supporting lives alongside those who are most vulnerable to abuses of power which devour the many to engorge the few.” 

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Reverend Shalom Agtarap PNW Conference of the United Methodist Church [Photo: Susan Fried]
Former State Legislator Velma Veloria who now works with Faith Action Network combating human trafficking talked about how refusing to allow people from war torn countries into the US and forcing deportations can increase human trafficking.  “What our government is doing today is actually facilitating human trafficking”.

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Imam Benjamin Shabazz- Al-Islam Center of Seattle. [Photo: Susan Fried]
The gathering ended as it began with the playing of Ella’s song by Sweet Honey in the Rock but this time antendees sang along with the refrain “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes”; vowing to defend DACA recipients and the broader undocumented community.

Featured image by Susan Fried


3 thoughts on “Vowing Support for DACA Recipients, Interfaith Coalition Says “No Human is Illegal””

  1. Am I to assume that these so-called religious leaders didn’t have a problem when Racist Deporter-in-Chief Obama was deporting 2.5 million immigrants? Or that they only “discovered” in the last couple days that no human is illegal?

    The immigrant rights movement needs CONSISTENT allies, not occasional allies who only speak when a Republican is in the White House.

    What do these so-called religious leaders have to say to the millions of immigrant families who were destroyed because a black Democrat was doing the deporting instead of an orange Republican?

    Am I to be my brother’s keeper only when it’s convenient?

    1. Here’s a thought: Why don’t you actually ask them instead of pulling assumptions out of your ass. But then I guess, you’d actually have to have some physical contact with a person instead of just raging on screen all day because it’s easier to be a “digital tiger” than actually engage with someone. Everytime you comment you demonstrate nothing but pigheaded ignorance and callousness. Why don’t you actually try getting a life, and then living it:

  2. Hi Lonnie,

    I was one of the organizers of the event, and I’m happy to answer your question to the best of my ability.

    As an initial point of clarification, religious communities in the United States are as diverse in their beliefs as Americans are in their political leanings. Even within a single faith community, there is often incredible diversity of belief.

    You’re right in that there are many faith leaders who have harmed our country and contributed to oppression by advocating for regressive policies that raise up the few at the expense of the many. It has been painful to watch, particularly in how many church leaders have actively fought against recognizing the dignity of our queer communities. And there have been many times when religious leaders have not spoken out on important political issues, remaining silent because it is easier. We do have to consider the ways in which we perpetuate injustices through our actions (or lack of action). All I can say to that is that we each have a tendency to take the easy road of inaction when confronted with ideological challenges; but, we also each have the responsibility to hold ourselves accountable and work to continually grow and improve.

    At the same time, I don’t think the reality of the situation is so simple that you can lump all religious leaders together and make claims about their intent. There are also faith communities and leaders out there who are organizers in their own right. They have stood alongside folks in the BLM movement, put themselves in harm’s way to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, fought for LGBTQ rights and recognition, spoken out against the treatment of American Muslims and Sikhs immediately after 9/11, outcried the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII, and flown across the world to provide disaster relief (e.g., 2015 Nepal earthquake, 2011 Japan earthquake/tsunami, and even now as Mexico City recovers). Many historical social justice advocates that we lift up as shining examples for their leadership have been religious leaders. For example, The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. considered himself a preacher first and an activist second. Mahatma Gandhi was a devout Hindu his entire life. Today, Pope Francis is known for his progressive values, and the Dalai Lama for his critiques of organized religion.

    Should religious leaders have come together and done more to actively call out the Obama administration’s continued deportation of millions of immigrants? Yes. Does not having done this in the past mean that religious communities can’t do good in the future? No. We all make mistakes. Our capacity to move forward as a nation will come from our ability to understand each other’s perspectives and forgive each other’s failures.

    I tend to think most things are more complicated than how they may appear on the surface. The Obama administration continued the practice of deporting millions of immigrants, ripping apart families and endangering those deported back to countries experiencing intense violence. That was wrong. But, President Obama also pushed through DACA. So I think we have to give him some credit. If we look back at the last three presidential administrations, the Obama administration actually deported about half the number of people deported during the Bush administration. And President Bush actually deported roughly 2 million fewer people than were deported during the Clinton administration. There’s still a ton of advocacy work that we need to do to get those numbers lower, but it’s a good thing that they’ve been decreasing each year since 2004.

    In relation to organizing in response to President Trump, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve never had a president in recent history who spoke so flippantly about dangerous civil rights abuses without suffering the consequences. That’s scary to most people, in a way that the Obama administration’s actions were not.

    I see more and more people engaging in advocacy, and I think they should be encouraged.

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