Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin, Director of Clergy and Leadership Development, ECCO
Update on Clergy Meeting with ICE
A week ago, Pastor Kent Harrop, Pastor Eduardo Caceres, Alexandra, and I met with the Deputy Field Office Director and the Assistant Deputy Field Office Director of the Northeast Region of ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Following our strategy to improve relations with the Lynn police, we took a human approach, reaching out to ICE leadership person to person. Though we have been deeply troubled by ICE’s actions separating immigrant families, our team asked ICE leadership about their motivations and priorities and listened pastorally about what feels hard about their work.
When the ICE directors reiterated their position that they are only targeting violent criminals, we asked whether we could bring cases to them where we see upstanding members of our communities being targeted and ask them to use their discretion to prevent those people from detention and deportation. They not only said yes but also proposed meeting quarterly with ECCO clergy to go over such cases.
We are not naive. Of course, the possibility of our intervening on individual cases does not change federal policies or keep our communities safe. Of course, we must still take public action to shift public opinion, change public policy, and hold ICE and law enforcement accountable. And we must still build our sanctuary network so that we can protect families when our advocacy fails. But according to our partners in Faith in Action (our national network), the idea of quarterly meetings is basically unheard-of and represents a huge victory since it may establish a channel of communication.
Good News for Blanca/Rally Cancelled
At our meeting, the ICE directors let us know that Blanca’s lawyers successfully filed to reopen her case, and so ICE will wait until USCIS (US Customs and Immigration Services) determines the outcome of that appeal. Given this, we are no longer holding the rally, though several clergy will still be accompanying Blanca to her visit. You are welcome to do so as well. We will be meeting as planned at 8:30am at the ICE Headquarters in Burlington.