(AUSTIN, Texas) — Leaders in the Austin Sanctuary Network (ASN) stood beside Alirio Gámez this morning as they announced their intention to fight until federal immigration officials agree to cancel Gámez’s deportation.
Gámez stood in front the group gathered in the sanctuary of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin and said:
“Yo busque Santuario porque tengo el derecho a la vida. Me vine de El Salvador porque sufrí la violencia que se vive en mi país. Esta es la razón por la que estoy aquí en Santuario.
Yo no me vine porque de repente me dio la gana, porque ni en sueños se me hubiera ocurrido venir a este país. Pienso que si lo que me paso en El Salvador hubiera sido diferente, yo no estaría aquí hoy. No estaba ansioso de venirme, el trabajo que yo tenía en mi país era suficiente para sobrevivir.”
* English translation below.
By coincidence, today’s announcement from Gámez and the ASN came at the same time that Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the impending end of DACA, a program that has resulted in approximately 800,000 younger immigrants being able to stay and work in the country.
Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership noted the sad coincidence but shared that the fight with Gámez and ASN gave him hope. “There is no place I would rather be than here at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin standing with Alirio, with Sulma and Hilda, and with the Austin Sanctuary Network, standing in solidarity with the immigrant community, the faith communities, our elected officials, to stand united and say ni una más, not one more deportation from our community,” he said.
Leaders from the Austin Sanctuary Network including secular members, members of churches and congregations across Austin, State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, and Austin City Council Member Leslie Pool all spoke out in support of Gámez this morning.
Rev. Babs Miller of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church of Austin and a leader in the Austin Sanctuary Network said, “We find ourselves gathered here today to say to all who have ears to hear and hearts of loving compassion that treating any human as inferior or [as one] whose life is of no value is wrong. It’s just wrong. There are no exceptions. Basic human rights belong to everyone, everywhere, or they ultimately belong to no one anywhere.”
* “I sought Sanctuary here because I have the right to life. I came from El Salvador because I suffered the violence that my country lives with. And that is the reason why I am here in Sanctuary.
I didn't come to this country because suddenly I felt like it. Because not even in my dreams would it have occurred to me to come here. I think that if what happened to me in El Salvador had been different, I would not be here today. I was not eager to come here, the work I had in my country was enough to survive.”
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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation and criminalization are things of the past.
Cristina Parker, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-499-8111