“Sanctuary for All” and “Keeping Families Together”
These are the themes for church and community efforts on behalf of our immigrant neighbors for 2018. “Sanctuary for all” means advocacy to ensure that all persons who are currently under threat in today’s climate of hostility (as we witnessed in Charlottesville this summer) toward persons of color, different ethnicity or citizenship status, or sexual orientation. The “Welcoming All” program of the Central Virginia Sanctuary Network, of which WPC is a member, will be focusing more broadly on how people of faith can create and sustain safe spaces for all. Dick Redding is WPC’s representative to the Steering Committee of the Central Virginia Sanctuary Network.
“Keeping Families Together” is the theme of several efforts by the Charlottesville Immigration Resource and Advocacy Coalition (CIRAC), in which WPC members are involved:
- The creation and administration of a bond and legal defense fund for undocumented persons without financial resources; bond will enable family breadwinners to remain with their families, rather than being sent to detention centers across the country where they are cut off from legal counsel and family support, while their case is being adjudicated.
- Advocacy at public hearings of the Albemarle County Regional Jail Board to adopt a policy refraining from automatically notifying Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of persons who have been jailed, and served their sentence, for a civil matter (such as child support) or misdemeanor (such as driving without a license); again, this enables families to stay together.
Legal assistance: Persons with a legal background (attorneys and paralegals) are needed to assist local organizations with bond fund administration, assisting at “Know Your Rights” legal clinics, being trained as a legal observer for the Rapid Response Hotline (in the case of ICE raids), and pro bono legal assistance under the supervision of experienced immigration law attorneys. WPC members who are interested in this kind of involvement may contact , , or .
Transportation: Because undocumented persons cannot obtain a driver’s license in Virginia (multiple arrests for driving without a license becomes a direct pipeline to detention under the current administration’s policy), volunteers are needed to drive them to immigration court in Arlington, VA or to the US Citizenship Information Service office in Alexandria. This can be a very rewarding way to provide assistance to vulnerable, but appreciative neighbors. Contact Gail Wiley if you’d like to fill out a volunteer application to drive.
Detention Visitation: Volunteers are needed to work with the Capital Area Immigration Rights Coalition (CAIR) at Farmville Detention Center. Volunteers assist the legal team with documenting detainee’s story and situation for review to assess whether there may be legal remedies. Several WPC members participate in this; when sufficient numbers of interested persons are identified, CAIR will come to Charlottesville to offer another required two-hour volunteer training. Contact Gene Locke if you are interested.
Sanctuary congregations: Several congregations in Charlottesville have committed to providing physical sanctuary for undocumented persons. WPC has committed to supporting these congregations with funding and hospitality (groceries, laundry, rides, furnishings, etc.) necessary to comfortably house persons or families over periods of months. If you are interested in contributing to this hospitality effort, contact or .