Tuesday, Jan. 14, 7:30 a.m. (Interfaith Vigil)
Federal Whipple Building
1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, MN 55111-4080
ICOM, the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration, has been holding vigils for years to advocate for the rights of immigrants and refugees, except now vigils are weekly instead of monthly. ICOM states on its website: “We are people of conscience who recognize the sacred humanity of all people. Our diverse traditions teach us to welcome our immigrant, refugee, and asylee sisters and brothers.
“We stand in solidarity with our immigrant neighbors and stand in opposition to ICE policies of detention and deportation that dehumanize immigrants and separate them from their families.”
The vigil on Jan. 14 will be the first one hosted by local Buddhists, from the Soka Gakkai, MN Buddhist Center.
One of the many faith-based groups that participates in the vigils is Plymouth Congregational Church. Plymouth also provides a presence at immigration hearings every Thursday. They leave the church at 9:30 a.m. and return by 11:45 a.m.
Jerry Davis, of Plymouth’s Immigrant Welcoming Working Group, writes about “Why We Go to Immigration Court” in Plymouth’s newsletter. He talks about the favorable outcomes. “While it’s informative to read about the pain and suffering endured by immigration detainees, the crisis becomes real when you witness firsthand the plight of the detainees in the courtrooms at the Whipple Building.
“While we are in the courtroom, the judge and the prosecuting attorney for the government are not free to operate in a vacuum. They are aware that concerned citizens are monitoring the process closely,” he writes.
In addition, since immigrants probably don’t find much warmth or friendliness in the court system, Plymouth’s Welcoming Group tries to offer that. Also, the group works on solutions together with other organizations. “There’s power in numbers,” Davis writes. “We are simply trying to move the needle in a positive direction toward humane immigration policies.”