Local faith leaders come together to voice support for LGBT activist taking sanctuary in First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin

July 29, 2015

(AUSTIN, Texas) — At a press conference today, the #LetSulmaStay campaign released a letter with signatures from over 60 active members and leaders of faith communities around the country, saying, “We write today to say that we want Sulma [Franco] to stay. Not only does Sulma not meet ICE priority removal requirements, but by forcing her into sanctuary ICE has ensured that she cannot provide for her own material needs. Members of faith communities and other people of conscience have arisen to take care of Sulma by visiting and sharing meals and will continue to do so until she is granted permission to stay in the United States. 

Franco, an LGBT activist from Guatemala, was denied asylum in the United States after clerical errors were made by her lawyer, although she passed credible fear interviews, and she now faces deportation. As an activist, Franco has faced discrimination and threats in the past, and should she be deported, would almost certainly be subjected to harm. "I felt like everything was crumbling in front of me again," she said in today's press conference, "I had plans to reopen my business after I was released from detention but we had to close it. My partner couldn't do it alone."

Marisol Caballero of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin said, “As Unitarian Universalists, we are called to help Sulma because to affirm the worth and dignity of every person and to work toward a just and peaceful world means to stand with the marginalized and the oppressed.  As a queer undocumented immigrant who faces violence and even death if she returns to Guatemala, Sulma is particularly vulnerable to injustice.  As people of faith, we believe that we are called to stand with Sulma who deserves the right to safety and happiness as much as you or I do.  We are all interconnected.  How can I be free if another's safety or happiness is threatened?“ Read the entire letter and see a full list of signatories, here