WHAT: Vigil by the Austin Sanctuary Network for Hilda and ask city Council to make Austin ICE free.
WHEN: Thursday, March 24th, 6:00 pm
WHERE: Austin City Hall, 301 W 2nd St, Austin, Texas
(AUSTIN, Texas) — The Austin Sanctuary Network will be having a vigil for Hilda and her son, who took sanctuary in a local church as a last resort to protect the family from deportation in early February. The two have been at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church since Hilda’s asylum case was rejected and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began a series of raids on Central American families that arrived after 2014.
The Austin Sanctuary Network is part of a growing national movement that is fighting back against raids, deportation and detention of immigrants. Thursday’s action comes the day after more than 20 faith leaders were arrested for blocking a road leading to a Los Angeles courthouse where Central American families, including children, are fighting for asylum. The Los Angeles protest was also in response to raids that targeted families like Hilda’s.
Hilda is one of many undocumented immigrants in Austin who fear being separated from their friends, families and community by deportation. Austin, a supposedly progressive and welcoming city to immigrants, is still a city where the Austin Police Department collaborates with ICE to deport immigrant community members. During the Holy Week as the Austin Sanctuary Network reaffirms our value of welcoming the stranger, we also demand that the Austin City Council and Mayor Steve Adler take action to separate the Austin Police Department from ICE and end the city’s participation in deportations.
Jim Rigby the head pastor of St. Andrew’s says “Tonight, members of various faith traditions will gather in front of city Hall in celebration of Maundy Thursday when Christ commands Christians to love our neighbors as ourselves, but also in witness of that fact that all our faith traditions call us to offer sanctuary to those who are being oppressed.”
This would not be the first time that Mayor Adler has heard of Hilda’s fight to stop her family’s deportation. In January, the ICE Out of Austin Campaign had a public conversation with Mayor Steve Adler, where campaign members asked him to support a resolution that would end collaboration between Austin Police and ICE. During that meeting, Mayor Adler said he preferred to respond to individual cases of Austin residents under threat of deportation. The Mayor spoke privately with Hilda that day, and she took sanctuary the following week.
Alejandro from the ICE out of Austin campaign says Hilda’s story illustrates why the city must take action. “We want Mayor Adler to make life easier for people who are living in Austin and live in fear of deportations like Hilda. We think that a city ordinance separating ICE from APD would have brought Hilda some peace knowing that the police would not pick her up for deportation. This vigil is for Hilda but it is also for all the other families that could also be in the same situation because APD collaborates with ICE.”
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Contact: Alejandro Caceres, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-499-8111