Immigration Supporters to City Council: Make Long Beach a Sanctuary City

2 Feb
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Pro-Immigration Rally of Tuesday Jan. 31, 2017, at Long Beach City Hall

More than a hundred Long Beach residents rallied outside City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 31, to demonstrate their solidarity with immigrants and their opposition to President Donald J. Trump’s recent temporary ban on immigrants from the mostly-Muslim countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Clergy and Laity for Economic Justice (CLUE) organized the rally.  A recent statement from the CLUE website said, “Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice reiterates (sic) our fervent belief that this country must be a haven for those escaping violence and crushing poverty.”

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Rev. Ricardo Avila of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

The Rev. Ricardo Avila of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church emceed.  The Reverend in his opening remarks to a round of applause said his church last week had voted to become a “Sanctuary Parish.”  Near the end of his remarks he said, “We now ask Long Beach City leaders to not be threatened and rise as well by declaring Long Beach a Sanctuary City and committing to be on the front lines of resistance.”

The Rev. Noel Andersen, of Church World Service and a leader of the national sanctuary movement, said that since the Presidential election the national sanctuary movement has grown from 400 to 800 congregations.

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Rev. Noel Andersen of Church World Service

The other faith-based clergy who spoke from Long Beach were Pastor Gregory Sanders of The Rock Christian Fellowship, Pastor Melinda Teter Dodge of the Los Altos United Methodist Church, Rabbi Emeritus Howard O. Laibson of Shir Chadash Congregation, Rev. Leon Wood of the North Long Beach Community Prayer Center and the Executive Director of the South Coast Interfaith Council, Milia Islam-Majeed.

Besides the faith-based community, Long Beach City Councilmembers—Lena Gonzales representing the 1st District, Jeanine Pearce representing the 2nd District and Roberto Uranga representing the 7th District—spoke.

Besides the local elected representatives, representatives of the immigrant community also spoke.  One of them was Alicia Morales, who represents the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition.  Morales, who now is covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, said that because she is undocumented she understands the fears the undocumented face.  She then said, with her voice quivering, “When you have the highest power in the country threatening your livelihood, threatening your humanity, threatening your dignity, it makes it very difficult to continually wake up in the morning…. We cannot allow this administration to relegate people to cages, to jail and to imprisonment.  We cannot let this administration determine who is deserving and who is not deserving because we are all deserving of a better life.”

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Nikole Cababa of the Filipino Migrant Center

Another speaker representing the immigrant community was Nikole Cababa from the Filipino Migrant Center.  Cababa, a long-time resident of Long Beach, said almost 30,000 Filipino immigrants live in Long Beach.  She then led the crowd in the chant, “Sanctuary, not deportation.”

Many of those who rallied came from the faith-based community.  Carol Quinlan, who is from the Unitarian Church of Long Beach, estimated about 20 members of her church with their yellow shirts rallied.  Quinlan said, “We are standing here on the side of love.”   Another person who rallied was long-time Long Beach resident Julie Baker.  Baker, who identified herself as a member of the North Long Beach Christian Church said she was there in solidarity.  A third person at the rally was Reina Mansilla, 62 and attends the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, said there were more than ten people from her church at the rally.  Mansilla, who was originally from Guatemala, said she was at the rally because immigrants need to have rights.

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Another version of this story was published at LBReport.com. It can be found at http://www.lbreport.com/news/saks/immig1.htm.

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