next public Quaker Meeting tentatively July 12.   at Morgan Hill ICE facility

Public Quaker Meeting to Affirm Immigrant Rights

Backgrounder – motivation and purpose

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Religious tolerance and equal treatment of all individuals, including respect for prisoners, are principals that Quakers have upheld throughout the history of the Religious Society of Friends. California Quakers have been particularly active in defending immigrant rights during key moments of U.S. history – including the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans in the 1940s and refugee migrations from Central and South America in the 1980s. Issues around non-citizen rights and abuses of immigration enforcement have been boiling in the United States for decades, especially in the West, but actions by the current Federal administration represent a sharp escalation of threats to people of color, Spanish speakers, non-citizens, and Muslims. The current administration has indicated that it intends to continue escalating these threats – with additional budget, staff, and loosening of guidelines around due process and judicial oversight.1 The daily fear and human trauma these policies create are violations of Quaker beliefs in Spirit-led, respectful, civil society.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is an agency that has been widely cited for human rights violations, skirting regulations, and secretive and adversarial community relations. Many local law enforcement agencies, especially in California, refuse to cooperate with ICE’s programs of detention and deportation of immigrants. The South Bay’s regional ICE office, which moved to Morgan Hill from San Jose in September 2016, functions in a community where the city council and local unified school district have both passed resolutions of non-cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Despite this, ICE has requested a permit from the city of Morgan Hill to add an unspecified number of “holding rooms” at its Vineyard Court location, which city staff have said would violate the city’s zoning ordinance.2

We infer that regional immigration enforcement efforts and agricultural employment raids are coordinated and staffed from this Morgan Hill ICE office. The facility is designated as an “Enforcement and Removal Operations” sub-office. For these reasons, a collection of community, faith-based, and college-based organizations have held several protests at this site in recent months.3 The Civic Action Working Group of Palo Alto Meeting, in coordination with our Ministry & Counsel Committee, is considering adding our own public witness to this series of public demonstrations. We will likely hold a Public Meeting for Worship in front of the Morgan Hill ICE facility at noon on Wednesday, July 12, 2017, a time when our act of worship and witness will likely be highly visible to the public. Our purposes are many: holding in the light both the employees who work from this center and the immigrants who are detained by it, witnessing against the purpose and practices our Government engages in here, and expressing our solidarity with other faith groups and the City of Morgan Hill in opposing any expansion of this facility. We welcome all to assist in planning this event and to join us in Worship on July 12.

Past public meetings for worship sponsored by Palo Alto Meeting

Feb 2017 – Public Quaker Meeting to affirm religious freedom