Faith groups host Sunday services outside federal prison in Ore. holding ICE detainees
SHERIDAN, Ore. – Some faith communities in Oregon are holding their Sunday services outside of a federal prison in Sheridan, where more than 100 undocumented immigrants seeking asylum are being held.
The groups say that 121 undocumented immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are being held at the Federal Correctional Institution medium-security prison in Sheridan.
On Saturday, leaders of Sikh and Christian clergy went to the facility in an attempt to connect with those detainees, but they were refused entry at the gate "with no clear answers as to a timeline or process for future access."
More than 250 clergy across the state have signed a letter to ICE and the warden of the Sheridan facility urging them to allow for "culturally and linguistically-appropriate religious services."
Lawyers visited the federal detention center last week and are working to ensure that those detained can talk to their families and get the medical care they need; however, ICE hasn't given assurances that the immigrants will be able to meet with attorneys before they're deported.
Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer, as well as Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, visited the facility last weekend and met with several of the immigrants inside.
Speakers also talked about the recent ICE policy that led to hundreds of children being separated from their parents at the border. President Trump reversed the policy last week.
“You might be tempted to exhale given President Trump’s Executive Order, but we know that our broken immigration system has been separating families long before this moment, and that it will continue to do so if our laws remained unchanged,” said Rev. Michael Ellick, First Congregational United Church of Christ in Portland, OR. “With Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions invoking Romans 13 to validate the amoral separation of immigrant children from their families, this can no longer be a time for ‘business as usual’ for Christian communities.”
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that people who "invade" the U.S. must immediately be sent back to their countries and not be given a court hearing. The president added that the U.S. immigration system is "laughed at all over the world" and is "very unfair" to individuals using legal avenues to gain entry.