Five years ago, the Reverend Deborah Lee of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity began organizing church vigils outside the West County Detention Center in Richmond, California. Vigil participants have won the ability to meet with detainees inside the prison, offered sanctuary, and have found legal help for families.
“Solidarity is our protection,” says Reverend Lee. “We ask faith communities to consider declaring themselves ‘sanctuary congregations’ or ‘immigrant-welcoming congregations.’”
In 2011 people of faith began holding a vigil outside the West County Detention Center, where immigrants are incarcerated before being deported.
A Jewish activist blows the shofar, or ram’s horn, outside the detention center, as a call to resist oppression and as part of a prayer service called during a time of communal distress.
One vigil was sponsored by members of the Unitarian Universalist Church, which developed a slogan for its work to halt deportations, “Standing on the Side of Love.”
A refugee from Central America is comforted outside the detention center where her brother was held.
The Reverend Izzy Alvaran, who gained asylum from the Philippines a decade ago, leads protesters in a chant outside the detention center.
A woman begins to weep as she describes leaving her home in Mexico, in a detention center vigil organized by Mujeres Unidas y Activas, an organization of immigrant women in San Francisco and Oakland.
Reylla Denis Ferraz Da Silva, her husband, Fabricio, and baby, Enzo Gabriel. Reylla was held and threatened with deportation, although she was nursing Enzo. She had been living in San Francisco for eight years, studying to be a pastor.