Two local churches have reacted to the Trump administration’s plan for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to begin arrest sweeps Sunday of migrant families who are under court deportation orders to be removed from the United States.
Altadena Community Church has joined the nationwide “Lights for Liberty” vigil in protest of the administration’s border detention centers. All Saints Church has offered sanctuary to local immigrants who might need succor from ICE agents.
Reports indicate that up top 2,000 people nationwide will be targeted for arrest. Los Angeles will be one focal point of ICE activity. It is not known if ICE is planning arrests in Pasadena.
As for the Pasadena Police Department, “We are not involved in any way,” said spokesman Commander Jason Clawson.
Stephen Smith, a local Republican candidate for Congress in 2010 and 2012, said he is a person who loves immigrants, but pointed out that the matter is a legal one.
“As long as [ICE] are following the law, then I’ve got to support them,” said Smith. “It’s certainly going to be unpleasant but, my goodness, you can’t have a society if you don’t, with compassion, follow the law.”
In contrast, no less than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged her caucus to work with religious leaders in resisting the raid, and to spread the Democratic Party’s “know your rights” campaign among targeted populations.
“Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps,” said it will conduct 650 events across the nation on July 12, with still others in Mexico, Canada, and Europe, where immigration is also on the political front-burner.
The protestors want to see an end to the detention centers for immigrants in the country illegally, and for those who have turned themselves in to begin the asylum process.
“With a large influx of Central Americans and other migrants at the border,” the group said in a statement, “the facilities, which resemble prisons in many ways, are beyond capacity and have come under increasing scrutiny.”
For its part, Altadena Community Church is asking people to join its congregation outside the United Church of Christ at 943 East Altadena Drive, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, July 12, “in solidarity with those facing inhumane conditions and the families who have been separated by current immigration policies.”
The church’s Reverend Jerod Yates told Pasadena Now, “We are just one of the sites participating in the worldwide event. We wanted to respond for Pasadena and Altadena; provide people a safe place to come, raise their concerns, and lift the voices of the children in these detention camps.”
The ICE raid was originally planned for a weekend in late June, but Trump ordered ICE agents to stand down.
At that time, All Saints Church Rector Rev. Mike Kinman announced that the church would serve as sanctuary for those targeted for arrest.
“All Saints Church condemns these raids and the actions of President Trump which authorized them,” said Kinman at the time. “Any individuals or families who are targeted by ICE for deportation will be provided sanctuary in our sacred space.”
The church is located directly across from Pasadena City Hall at 132 North Euclid Ave.
Yuny Parada, co-chair, Pasadena Latino Forum, encouraged those who need cover to make their way to the sanctuary. “We thank All Saints Church for their efforts,” she said in an interview. “That church has been the best.”
Parada echoed sentiments already expressed on the eve of the earlier, canceled, raid.
“I think mostly what people will try to do is go to another place if they fear they have a warrant for their arrest or something like that,” she explained. “If they have been identified for deportation, they will move from wherever they are.”
She said such actions tend to make the people providing them a place to stay vulnerable to ICE detention as well.
“They will be found,” said Parada, “and that’s why I am trying to tell everybody, ‘don’t open the door and don’t believe they have a warrant for your arrest,’ because most of the time it’s not true.”
Armando Carmona works as a spokesman for a number of immigrant and Latinx community groups throughout the region, such as the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN).
He said immigrants are organizing and divining ways to look out for each other, sharing ‘know your rights’ information, holding community forums throughout the Los Angeles area, and staying vigilant.
“The main thing is that people should stay calm and keep their composure,” said Carmona. “This isn’t a time to allow fear to take over. We are inviting folks to know their rights and know the proper way to engage a federal agent.”