Thursday, March 08, 2007

Closer to Home

For both the native among the Israelites and the alien residing among them—you shall have the same law for anyone who acts in error.

Numbers 15:29

Marin County, California, is often viewed from the outside as a rich, white, liberal collection of suburbs of San Francisco and the Bay Area, where everyone owns a jacuzzi, huge house, talks environmentalism, drives an SUV, and hates organized religion.

But all of that ignores a much more complex reality. Just a few miles north of Church of Our Saviour is the Canal neighborhood in San Rafael, a place I visited for the first time today to offer our church's pastoral assistance to a couple who were struggling to make ends meet, but not yet destitute enough to get assistance from local support agencies.

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, ICE raided the neighborhood, claiming they were "police," and taking citizens and illegal immigrants alike into custody in the pre-dawn hours. This frightened many people into keeping their children home from school and from leaving their homes -- effectively, a state of fear that many of us American citizens have never known, unless we've lived for a time in a police state. There are even stories of people being picked up on the street with no notice given to their families of where they were being taken. Disturbing to me is that this echoes the dreaded experience of the "disappeared" in other countries.

You can read more about the raids and reactions of the community in this article in the Marin Independent Journal.

The religious leaders (lay and ordained) of Marin County have been summoned to rally in helping the community heal and recover, offer solidarity and support to those living in fear, and to call ICE to account for their unnecessarily draconian methods.

I ask your prayers.

One of the huge downsides of living with a reputation of affluence is that it conceals the real needs in our midst.


June Butler said...

Richard, your community is in my prayers. None of us should forget that the wealthy enclaves always need people to do the heavy work of child care, cooking, cleaning, and gardening, and among these workers are many living on the margins and suffering exploitation by their employers.

Darkrose said...

I hadn't heard about this until just now. It's utterly appalling, but I'm heartened to see that the religious community is working with local government to deal with this.

Do you know if there's anything people outside of Marin can do--anyone we can write to?

R said...


Quick answer -- something you can do:

Write your own representatives and senators and let them know how you feel about the way the ICE is handling immigration enforcement, in light of these examples. Encourage them to support immigration reform and hold the Executive Branch accountable for ICE conduct.

I always find it helpful to remember how much our economy relies on an immigrant (and often illegal at that) workforce. Simply enforcing existing immigration law will not address the human reality that we face.