N.C. Justice Center holds prayer vigil for immigration policy reform

Aug. 25, 2013 @ 11:26 PM

Pastor Rubén Larios shared with the crowd in the downtown Durham plaza Sunday that two years ago, he and members of his church were pulled over by immigration officials.

They were heading back from Houston to Raleigh, and they were stopped in Louisiana. It was 1 a.m. when the 70 people in his group were detained, and five eventually were deported.

But most returned home to their families and stayed with their families, he said through a translator. “Thankfully, due to everyone coming together and praying, that was the case.”

About 75 people met downtown Sunday to pray for moral immigration policy reform. Some held signs that read, “Stop separating families.” Others held drawings of yellow butterflies, and underneath, it read, “Migration is beautiful. Global justice is even better.”

Dan Rearick, an immigrant rights staff attorney with the N.C. Justice Center, said he works with families every day that traveled from Latin America to the States more than a decade ago. They now work in America and their children go to school in America, he said. They work hard to stay in America.

“When our laws don’t allow for that freedom, it is our laws that must change,” he said.

Father Carlos Arce, Vicar for Hispanics for the Raleigh Diocese, said that Catholic bishops support laws that provide a pathway to citizenship.

“In welcoming the stranger, we are welcoming Christ himself,” Arce said. “…We pray that our elected leaders will do what is morally just.”

Rabbi John Friedman with Judea Reform Congregation said his ancestors came from Lithuania and that “we’re all from somewhere else.”

“We don’t remember. If we live here, if we are long-time citizens of the U.S., we don’t remember that our ancestors came from somewhere else,” Friedman said. “That’s the essence of America.”

The Rev. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham of Pilgrim United Church of Christ said this is a special week to take a stand for immigration policy reform because of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. She read a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., from his letter from Birmingham Jail in April of 1963.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” she read. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

She looked up and said, “We are all in this together.”

After the speakers took turns at the microphone, Rearick and his friend, activist Katushka Olave, led the group in English and Spanish prayer.

May we pray for thousands of families torn apart by deportations, they said. May there be protections for workers.

“Lord, hear our prayer.”

“Señor, escucha nuestra oración.”