Statement at Press Conference/Rally on Immigration Outside the New ICE Facility, Santa Maria, California

Good morning, I’m John Dear, and I’m sad that this evil facility was built, but glad to be here, standing with friends on behalf of the immigrant community, to call upon the Federal government and the State of California to do everything possible to make sure this new ICE facility does not detain, process and separate immigrant families who have not committed serious crimes and are simply living and working here among their neighbors in Santa Maria.
We also call upon local policymakers to show immigrant communities they are welcome and safe in Santa Maria and California by taking meaningful actions to repair the relationship between immigrant families and local civic institutions, from city hall to the school district to the police department.
We are a nation of immigrants; they should always be welcomed and treated with respect. As a priest of the diocese of Monterey, I can confirm that the church stands with the immigrant and the worker, that we all have a moral duty to welcome as neighbors those who have taken long and dangerous journeys in search of a better life for their families, and that we need to treat one another as nonviolently as possible.
As Christians, we believe that Christ is present in the immigrant. What we do to the immigrant, we do to God. And so, the people who work at ICE and on immigration, need to be on their absolute best behavior.
In the tradition of Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King, Jr., we people of faith call on our local institutions, from city hall to the school district to the police department, to show that this city and this region is a place of compassion, nonviolence, dignity and respect for immigrants and all people. We want Santa Maria, California and the whole country to become a new culture of nonviolence, a place of peace for one and all, first of all, for the poor, the worker, and the immigrant. Thank you for whatever you can do to make this possible.
God bless you all.