Faith Communities Help OR Immigrants Targeted for Deportation
PORTLAND, Ore. – As immigration officials ramp up detentions and deportations in Oregon and across the country, immigrant families are left wondering how to prepare.
The Trump administration's new policy leaves nearly everyone in the country that is not a legal resident open to deportation.
In Oregon, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have targeted undocumented immigrants outside courtrooms and on their way to work, including the recent detention of a father of five living in Sandy.
Rae Anne Lafrenz, a coordinator for the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice in Oregon, says immigrant families should "expect the best and prepare for the worst."
"You need to have powers of attorney signed,” she stresses. “If you as a mother or a father are detained, who will take care of your kids? Who'll pick them up from school? How can you pay the rent? What sort of support structure do you have?"
Lafrenz also advises people not to open their door for ICE agents unless the agents have a warrant.
Almost two-thirds of undocumented immigrants have lived in the U.S. for a decade or longer, and many own homes or have children who are U.S. citizens.
President Donald Trump says the new, tougher immigration policy is needed to protect public safety.
The administration has also authorized expedited deportations, meaning people can be removed from the country without seeing a judge.
Lafrenz says there are ways that members of the community who aren't immigrants, but are concerned about the new policy, can help.
"I think it's really important right now, for anybody who's interested in this, for anybody who's angered by this and anyone who's motivated by their conscience to work, is to connect with an immigrants rights organization, or connect with an immigrant-led organization,” she stresses. “And they're all over this state.”
Lafrenz says faith communities have been on the front line of protecting immigrants in the U.S. for decades, building a sanctuary movement during the 1980s and continuing it over the last 20 years. In her view, the crackdown on immigrants is a violation of human rights, which means it's also a matter of faith.
"People of faith have been one of the first to take action when human rights are being violated,” she states. “And I think that's mostly because, coming from a place of faith, whatever tradition that is, when we have a faith tradition that compels us to act and we ignore it, we're violating our own principles."