Immigrant Workers and Families

For decades, immigrants have been among the most vulnerable workers in this country, whether they have legal status or not. As a result, much of CLUE's advocacy work centers on accompanying immigrant families when they are in jeopardy, standing with them when they speak truth to power, and supporting policies and laws that welcome them and their contributions.

CLUE works with immigrant rights organizations in several initiatives, including training rapid responders to bear witness when immigration raids occur in our neighborhoods, visiting immigrants in detention and working to bond them out, and speaking out locally and at the state level for measures that let immigrants work and worship without police harassment, whether on our sidewalks, in our ports, or anywhere in our community.

Sacred Resistance and Sanctuary

CLUE is a member of the coalition of organizations that operates the Raids Rapid Response Network, which coordinates people across Southern California to respond with persistence and without violence when federal immigration agents conduct raids in our neighborhoods and workplaces.

CLUE also works with the organization Freedom for Immigrants, which aims to end immigration jails, to coordinate congregation members to visit people in detention at the Adelanto Detention Center about 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles and at the James A. Musick facility in Orange County. These immigrants brave horrible conditions in their home countries and endure arduous journeys to the U.S.-Mexico border, where they ask for asylum in hopes of reuniting with family members here.

The asylum seekers are then held in privately run immigration prisons, where they await their case decisions and have little chance of tapping any support networks or finding attorneys to represent them. Unlike in the criminal system, people facing an immigration judge are not entitled to an attorney to represent them in court. If they can’t afford a lawyer, they face an unfamiliar system with unfamiliar laws and an unfamiliar language by themselves.

And because the family members they sought to rejoin also do not have legal status, there is often no one to visit the asylum seekers. Trained CLUE congregation members travel in groups or on their own to visit and talk with these asylum seekers, to provide a listening ear and an understanding heart.

Unaccompanied Central American Refugee Empowerment (UCARE) Coalition

In 2014, CLUE convened city officials, faith leaders, community organizers, nonprofit legal and mental health service providers to build a network of support for the thousands of Central American refugee children who were streaming north as they fled rampant drug gangs in their home countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. As they reunited with their families following their journeys and then detention by federal authorities, we knew they would need extra support.

Then in the summer of 2015, a delegation of CLUE clergy, organizers, and reporters travel to the Guatemala-Mexico border to witness first-hand the injustices these young refugees were facing, and to be in solidarity with those who were trying to help them on the ground. 

We believe people of faith have a unique and prophetic role to play in helping these children and their families as they face considerable obstacles in their new country. This is not just a legal issue — it is a moral, social, and family concern. CLUE continues to convene the UCARE Coalition to face the changing circumstances of our national immigration emergency.

Julio Barahona Exodus Fund

Between December 2016 and July 2017, at least five people tried to commit suicide at the privately-run Adelanto Detention Center about 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles, where many immigrants who are seeking asylum await decisions on their cases. Three died in the space of only five months.

Some asylum seekers decided to act. They made headlines when they launched hunger strikes to protest unreasonably high bonds, physical abuse and medical neglect. Eight Central American and 20 Haitian asylum seekers risked forcible feeding to bring attention to the deplorable conditions they were living in, conditions that continue to this day.

CLUE stepped up to raise money to post bond for the hunger strikers so they could reunite with their families and look for attorneys. In Adelanto, bonds are high and detention is routine. Because the vast majority of immigrants detained there have little money, few friends here, and little understanding of the language or the legal system, they get deported back to the danger they tried to flee when they left their home countries, even if they have a strong case.

When we approached the original eight Central American hunger strikers about this project, they refused to accept our help if it did not include their Haitian comrades. We were inspired by their solidarity to bond them all out. The first to go free was Julio Barahona, for whom the fund is named.

Through the Julio Barahona Exodus Fund, we help meet the asylum seekers’ immediate needs while continuing the long fight to end the jailing of immigrants. Join us in this struggle for the dignity and compassionate treatment of our brothers and sisters from other countries. 

 

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