Faith Leaders Open Doors To Fearful Immigrants

Feb 9, 2017

Some New Jersey faith leaders say their doors are open to immigrants in fear of deportation
Credit Ken Downey Jr. / WBGO

“Build community. Not a wall,” was what echoed down Broad Street, Thursday morning, as a bit over a hundred people gathered in protest of President Trump’s executive order, in front of Grace Church in Newark. Grace Church, which stands on the corner of Broad Street and Walnut since 1837, is directly adjacent to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building. The rally that began around 9 a.m. brought in several members from various religions that offered their support to immigrants. 

“Some of us are prepared to offer our houses of worship as literal sanctuaries as a place for those in fear to shelter in safety,” said Rabbi Joel Abraham of Temple Sholom in Scotch Plains. “Others will support these congregations and those seeking sanctuary with financial, legal, and moral support.” 

On January 27, President Trump issued an executive order, which temporarily banned travel between the United States and seven separate countries. All of which are predominately Muslim based. Since signing the executive order, groups around the country have been in protest. 

Catalino Herraro, a Hispanic immigrant, has been facing the threat of deportation for the last few weeks.
Credit Ken Downey Jr. / WBGO

  The religious leaders who surrounded themselves in front of Grace Church, were not only protesting President Trump’s executive order, but also there in support of someone in their community. Catalino Herraro, a Hispanic immigrant, has been facing the threat of deportation for the last few weeks. 

“We come for a very specific purpose, to stand with Catalino Herraro and his family,” said Father Brent Bates, Director of Grace Church. “An innocent man, a father, grandfather, and neighbor who was suddenly called into an interviews with immigration. His ordeal is not over, and what we are here to stand for is not complete. We are here for all of the Catalino’s in New Jersey, and in the United States.” 

With several pauses for prayer, figures from different religious backgrounds gave their thoughts on what need to occur in order to help the community. 

“When our government officials declare their regions to be sanctuary it demonstrates the power that local government has to stand their ground against overzealous ice policies,” said Pastor Timothy Jones of Bethany Baptist Church in Newark. “It demonstrates love by showing that government cares more about people than politics. And it easily demonstrates a sound mind.” 

The appeals court is set to rule on the executive order later this week.