Border Patrol makes move toward respecting Places of Worship, Schools, and Human Service
Op Ed by the Alliance for Immigrants Rights & Reform
DETROIT, Feb. 22, 2013: The Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform and Michigan Organizing Project (AIR – MOP) praised the release of a new policy memorandum from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The memo explicitly provides guidelines and some protection for people attending places of worship, schools, and human service agencies. Whether immigrant or U.S. citizens, parents taking their children to school in communities with immigrants have been harassed and detained by Border Patrol agents. This is particularly important in Detroit, where St. Anne’s Church, Latino Family Services, and the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation have all been harassed by Border Patrol in recent years.
“Human service agencies are places people come to because they are in need and often vulnerable,” said Lidia Reyes, executive director of Latino Family Services. “Our workers and clients can both breathe a bit easier knowing there is less chance Border Patrol is going prevent us from serving vital community needs. Now that we have a policy in writing, we will work hard to improve it and ensure that Border Patrol actually follows their own rules.”
AIR-MOP, the Northern Borders Coalition, Southern Border Communities, and many other immigrant rights groups have been trying for years to get Border Patrol to create a public policy that recognizes places of worship, schools, and human services agencies as sensitive places, off-limits to normal immigration enforcement.
“This new policy is the result of more than a year of organizing and work by community leaders across the country. We are pleased that it recognizes the sanctity of house of worship, and we look forward to improving and enforcing this policy through community action," said Deacon Tim Pilon, director of Hispanic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Detroit, “This is one more step that shows the growing momentum for comprehensive immigration reform."