The Church Council of Greater Seattle is ready to assist families financially and in any other means possible, whether that's members opening their homes up to mothers searching for their children or opening churches up as sanctuaries.
Singing seeps out of the Normandy Park United Church of Christ Monday night as cars trickle into the parking lot and people continue to fill the pews within. The people within are praying for asylum-seeking immigrants in detention. In unison, they say “presente” or “present” in Spanish.
Around 300 people showed up to the Interfaith Service and Vigil. The event was quickly organized by The Church Council of Greater Seattle, whose membership includes 320 congregations of 16 different denominations across King and South Snohomish counties.
According to the council’s Executive Director Michael Ramos, the organization has been working to advocate for families affected by immigration policies since the beginning of the Trump administration. But in this case, he said this event brings targeted attention to the 206 immigrants in the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.
“It’s such a moral violation that goes against past immigration policy and basic humanity that we need to come together, organize ourselves and act so that we can support these families,” said Ramos.
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The organization is ready to assist families financially and in any other means possible, whether that’s members opening their homes up to mothers searching for their children, or opening churches up as sanctuary.
The Church Council was also collecting signatures on a letter published online on behalf of immigrant families and asylum seekers. They plan on delivering it to the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Refugee Resettlement and Washington state elected officials. The letter will become public June 20.
Over 850 people have signed the letter so far, according to a spokesperson for The Church Council.
The Church Council is working with different legal organizations like the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, to provide help to asylum-seekers who are currently detained.
“The trauma that they [the children] are going through is heartbreaking,” said Ramos.
Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, and Rep. Mia Gregorson, D-SeaTac, were also in attendance.
Orwall said this issue impacts her district immensely as it’s home to a culturally diverse community.
Marvista Elementary School Principal Melissa Pointer, who attended the event, said three students have been affected by the policies and lost their mother to deportation last month.
The event comes at the heels of an outcry from local elected officials who’ve responded to the “zero-tolerance” policy put in place by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which is criminally prosecuting all border crossings.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sent a letter to Sessions earlier Monday asking where the children have been placed and whether the parents are aware of where their children are?
The service ended with Ramos demanding justice and truth in the face of uncertainty for the many detainees in SeaTac.
“You are not alone, no estan solas” he said.