Ahead of the State of the Union Address, Immigrants Rights Advocates Demand Accountability for ICE’s Arbitrary and Excessive Crackdown on Sanctuary Leaders and Immigrant Rights Activists

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A full recording of today’s call can be found here

Washington, DC — Faith leaders, advocates and undocumented individuals in Sanctuary held a press call today to unveil a first-of-its-kind report on the faith based Sanctuary movement and highlight the growth of the movement and how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are increasing retaliation tactics against immigrant rights organizers and humanitarian activists.

Key highlights from the report include:

  • Over 1,100 congregations are now part of the Sanctuary Movement.
  • There are over 40 state Sanctuary coalitions representing 25 states.
  • The current number of immigrants in public Sanctuary is 36 across 26 different cities.
  • Case examples of ICE tactics to attack Sanctuary leaders and deport more people who have been part of our communities for years.

The report comes with a rise of retaliation by ICE against immigrant rights activists, as the agency is emboldened to be less transparent, unaccountable and act with increased impunity under the Trump administration. In the most recent weeks, we have seen ICE go after immigrants rights activists Ravi Ragbir, Maru Mora Villalpando, Jean Motrevil and Eliseo Jurado. Today a federal judge found that Ravi’s abrupt detention was unnecessarily cruel and he was ordered to be released (read judges full decision here).

Ingrid Encalada Latorre, who is currently in Sanctuary in Colorado and whose partner was recently detained said, “ICE is attacking us as leaders and activists at the local and national level. They don’t want us to lead, but they won’t silence us because we too have rights as immigrants in this country.”

Amy Gottlieb, whose husband, Ravi Ragbir, was just released from detention, said, “I am appalled to see the growing attacks on immigrant leaders. Ravi was detained at a regularly scheduled check-in with ICE, even though nothing had changed in his legal case – it is clear that he is targeted because of his outspoken challenges to our unjust immigration system. It is devastating to see my husband and so many others locked up in county jails, their liberty taken away from them, while private companies and others profit from our suffering.”

Maru Mora Villalpando, Organizer at the Northwest Detention Center Resistance,  said, “I am attending the State of the Union as an act of defiance. ICE is retaliating against me for my vocal opposition to their cruel and unjust practice. They will not silence me -- the only day I will stop, is when every single detention center in the country is shutdown.”

Alicia Dinsmore, of No More Deaths said, “Nearly two weeks ago, US Border Patrol apprehended a humanitarian activist and two individuals receiving humanitarian aid. This interference with humanitarian aid fits a pattern of state repression targeted at immigrant communities and those who work with them. The current administration has made it clear that those who are crossing the border and those who are undocumented in the United States are under attack.”

Rev. Julie Peeples, Senior Pastor at Congregational United Church of Christ of Greensboro, North Carolina said,  “Here in North Carolina we have five people in Sanctuary, and we have at least another six or seven congregations becoming Sanctuary with more calling each week, it is really growing rapidly here. My congregation and I continue to be inspired by the courage and strength of those in sanctuary and their leadership. They are teaching us how to love our neighbor and how to honor our nation’s pledge of ‘liberty and justice for all. ”


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow @DetentionWatch.

The Sanctuary Movement is a growing  movement of faith communities accompanying marginalized communities targeted by discrimination and deportation through prophetic resistance. Visit www.sanctuarynotdeportation.org for more information. Follow @SanctuaryMvmt