Pennsylvania Clergy Sign-on Letter: Stop the ICE Raids!

On January 2, 2016, the Obama Administration began a series of deportation raids targeting Central American refugee families who fled their countries in fear for their lives. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed detaining 121 people in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, and the raids could come at any moment to Pennsylvania.

New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, an interfaith immigration justice organization, has an open sign-on letter (below) from clergy, faith leaders, and women religious in opposition to these devastating raids to demonstrate to the Administration that people of faith in our state stand united against unjust family separation and call for moral courage in the face of international refugee crises. We have a goal of gaining 121 clergy signatures to represent the 121 people who were already detained by the raids.

With any questions or concerns, please contact Nicole Kligerman at or phone at (215) 279-7060. Please forward this sign-on letter to other Pennsylvania clergy who support immigrant rights.

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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.


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