200+ PA Clergy deliver letter opposing Anti-Sanctuary bill, HB 1885

Members of the Pennsylvania faith community delivered a letter signed more than 200 faith leaders, urging state lawmakers to reject HB 1885, an anti-immigrant piece of legislation that creates an environment of discrimination against all immigrants.  Faith leaders urge the Pennsylvania legislature to recall how important the role of welcoming the immigrants is according the tradition and sacred text, quoting Leviticus 19:34 (CE): “Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.”

October 24, 2016
Dear Pennsylvania Senators,
As faith leaders from many different traditions, we write out of grave concern regarding HB 1885, a piece of legislation that just yesterday passed the Pennsylvania House. As people of faith, we look first to the common values rooted in our sacred texts that remind us to love our neighbor and welcome the sojourner among us. As Leviticus 19:34 (CE) reminds us:

“Any  immigrant  who  lives  with  you  must  be  treated  as  if  they  were  one  of  your  citizens.  You   must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your  God.”

We urge you to recall that we are a country of immigrants and recognize the valuable contributions immigrants bring to our communities and congregations. Pennsylvania policies should reflect those values and treat immigrants with the respect and dignity we all deserve. HB 1885 and its harsh rhetoric sends a divisive message and casts immigrants as threats rather than contributors to our communities.

We also believe HB 1885 will erode trust between the immigrant community and local police and put our public safety at risk. Victims of crime and witnesses are far more likely to come forward when they are not threatened by the risk of being detained, deported and separated from their families.

It is likely that HB 1885 will lead to liability issues for local law enforcement as well, as it did in Miranda-Olivares vs. Clackamas County in Oregon where a federal court found Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer holds unconstitutional and thus mandated a settlement. Likewise, in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, Mr. Ernesto Galarza, a U.S. Citizen born in Puerto Rico,  was  wrongfully  detained  on  ICE’s  assertion  that  he  was  undocumented.  Mr.  Galarza  won   his case when the third district court ruled that local police are not required to honor an ICE detainer request and that Lehigh County shared in responsibility  for  violating   Mr.   Galarza’s   Fourth Amendment and due process rights.

HB 1885 would unfairly punish punish local police departments for not targeting immigrants simply for being undocumented. This bill serves only to spread fear, hate, and xenophobia, and would not make communities in Pennsylvania any safer. By reporting and detaining individuals solely because they are believed to be undocumented immigrants, HB 1885 would reverse years of intentional, community-based policing efforts that are vital to public safety in neighborhoods across the state.

We believe that HB 1885 will create a more hostile environment for all immigrants and persons of color, which would lead to further discrimination and increased racial profiling, regardless of immigration or citizenship status. As we continue to raise consciousness about how our criminal justice system needs reform to stop targeting low-income communities of color, it bears noting that the Latino population is often unjustly profiled. TRUST policies or  “sanctuary”  resolutions  in   which local police do not collaborate with ICE, do not prohibit immigrants from being prosecuted if they have committed a crime, as some have alleged. All individuals who commit crimes are charged and prosecuted just as in all jurisdictions.

As faith leaders, we stand with the more than three hundred local jurisdictions that have chosen to limit their collaboration with ICE. We are confident that these common sense and widely used community policing practices result in greater public safety for all because of the trust they build between immigrant communities and law enforcement. It is because of the positive work of these communities and the concerns we expressed above that we ask that you oppose HB 1885.

In solidarity,

Conference Minister David Ackerman, Penn West Conference, United Church of Christ Refugee Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Aeschliman, West End Mennonite Fellowship Mrs. Kathleen Afflerbach, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran
Rev. Katie Aikins, Tabernacle United Church

Ms. Patricia Allen, First church of the brethren
Lutheran Pastor Elinor Allison, Saint Luke’s Lutheran, Sunbury
Licensed Minister Maggie Alston Claud, Church of the Good Shepherd and Christ Church Cathedral
Sister Patricia Ash, Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia
Elder Marc Averill, West End Mennonite Fellowship
Rev. Dr. Marcia Bailey, Calvary Baptist Church, Norristown, Pa
Reverend Marcia Bailey, First Baptist Church, Pottstown, PA
Justice and Peace Coordinator Faith Balawejder, Felician Sisters of North America
Marie Bambrick, Sisters of Saint Joseph
The Reverend Judith Beck, Retired: The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
Rabbi Nehama Benmosche, The Benmosche Project
Coordinator Erie Benedictines for Peace Sister Marlene Bertke, OSB, Benedictine Sisters of Erie
Rev. Sharron Blezard, Lower Susquehanna Synod, ELCA
Reverend William Bloom, United Christian Church ucclevittown.org
Rev. Curtis Book, Circle of Hope–Brethren in Christ
Reverend Curtis Book, Circle of Hope
Rev. Dr. Bruce Bouchard, United Church of Christ
Ordained Interfaith Minister Zemoria Brandon, First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia
Sister Sally Ann Brickner, Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes
Rev. (ret.) Raymond Brown, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ
Rev. Vickie Brown
Reverend Raymond Brown, (ret.), St. Paul’s United Church of Christ
Reverend Felicia Bruce, Interfaith Ministry
Church Planting Core Team Member Arthur Bucher, Circle of Hope Brethren in Christ Church

Bishop Pat Bumgardner, Metropolitan Community Churches
Rev. Dr. Geneva Butz, Tabernacle United
The Rev David Byerly, Grace Lutheran, Shamokin, PA
Rev. Dr. James Calderone, American Catholic Church in the United States Sister of Mercy Lucy Calvillo, Catholic

Social Action Coordinator United Methodist Women Ruth Carr, Temple UMC Director of Faith Formation Maryellen Carroll, Roman Catholic
Pastor Marta Castillo, Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Mennonite Church Sister Donna Cicalese, Sisters of St. Joseph

Sancuary Supporter John Cleaver, St. Vincent De Paul Parish Covenant Member Jane Clinton, Circle of Hope
Rev. Robert Coats, Open Circle Metropolitan Community Church Rev. Robert Coombe, First United Methodist Church of Germantown Sister Catherine Corrigan, Sisters of Saint Joseph

Public Advocacy Assistant John-Michael Cotignola-Pickens, PA Council of Churches Rabbi Meryl Crean, Mishkan Shalom
Sister Elaine Cullen, Sisters of Saint Joseph
The Reverend E. Clifford Cutler, Saint Paul’s Church

Rev. Dr. Beverly Dale, United Christian Church of Levittown
Mr. Robert Daub, Presbyterian
Sister Colleen Dauerbach SSJ, Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia
Social Justice Coordinator Sister Colleen Dauerbach, SSJ, Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA
Pastor Greg Davidson Laszakovits, Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren
Office Manager/Chaplain Ruth Davila, The Block Church
Deacon Hector Davila, The Block Church
Coordinator of Social Justice for IHM’s of Immaculata S. Rosemary Davis, Sisters of IHM, Immsaculata
Community Development and Education Program Coordinator Manuel DePaz, EBSC Associate in Ministry Carol Detweiler, New Hanover Lutheran Evangelical Church, Gilbertsville, PA
Reverend Melba Dibble, Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries
Deaconess Darlene DiDomineck, Methodist Federationfor Social Action
Sister Clare DiGregorio, Sisters of St. Joseph
Rev. Maureen Duffy-Guy, Trinityn & St. Peters, Tower City
Sister Barbara Einloth, Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill
Sunday School Teacher Lilliana Estrada, Jehovah-jireh Pentecostal Church, Inc.
Sister Sheila Falls, Sisters of St Joseph, Philadelphia
Sister Sheila Falls, Sisters of St Joseph, Chestnut Hill
Victoria Fanino, Sisters of Saint Joseph
Sister Mary Elizabeth Farrell, Sisters of St. Joseph, Chestnut Hill, PA
Rev. Michael Fischer, Country Meadows Retirement Communities
Sister Anne Myers Peg Fleming, Sisters of Saint Joseph
Ms. Jane Forry, Zion Evangelical Lutheran

Sister Madeline Franze, Sisters of St. Joseph, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia The Reverend Sharline Fulton, Retired Episcopal Priest
Sister Kathleen Gallagher, Sister of Charity
Director of Religious Education Alice Gallagher, Sisters of Saint Joseph Rev. Dr. Donald Green, St. John of Highlands Lutheran

Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City Mr. Joseph Hassan, Catholic
AD Helgaleena Healingline, White Rabbit Grove RDNA
Teacher Caroline Heffner, Sister of St. Joseph

Rev. Dr. Wayne Heintzelman, Faith Lutheran, Mt.Penn/Christ Lutheran, Reading Reverend Lester Helmeczi, Christ Church UCC
Reverend Lorie Hershey, West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship
Deacon Holly Hoffman, MD, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran

Pastor Julie Hoke, Circle of Hope
Co-President United Methodist Women Eastern Pa Conference Gladys B Hubbard Hubbatd, United Methodist Church
Sister Patrice Hughes, Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill
Member Jean M. Hunsberger, Souderton Brethren in Christ Church
Sister Virginia Jenkins, Sisters of St. Joseph
Bishop Peggy Johnson, Eastern PA Conference of the UM Church
The Rev. Richard Jorgensen, Lower Susquehanna Synod- ELCA
Sisters of Mercy Associate Ann Marie Judson, Catholic
Pastor Jay Fredrick Kauffman, Franconia Mennonite Conference
Rev. Del Keeney, Mechanicsburg Church of the Brethren
Deacon Michael Kelly, St. Bernadette Parish
Sister Patricia Kelly, Sisters of Saint Joseph, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia
Rev. Dr. Paul Koch, Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries
Rabbi Nancy Kreimer, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Rev. Marissa Krey, Lutheran Church of God’s Love, Newtown, PA
Rev. Dr. Stephen Kriss, Philadelphia Praise Center
Clerk Nancy Krody, Collenbrook United Church, Drexel Hill
Sister Rose Patrice Kuhn, IHM
Sister of Saint Joseph Maria Lannutti, SSJ Philadelphia
Elder Jody Lantz, Thrive International Programs
Rabbi Alan LaPayover
Sunday School Teacher Ana Lapp, Mine Road Amish Mennonite
None Wendy Larson, Crossroads
Rev. Burlington Latshaw, III, St. John’s Lutheran, Hamburg, Pa.
Reverend Megan LeCluyse, Christian Association at UPenn
The Rev. Matthew Lenahan, Zion Lutheran Church
Reverend Joe Leonard, West Kensington Ministry
Reverend Joe Leonard, Central Baptist Church
Sister Kathleen Letts, Sisters of St.Joseph
Rabbi Sarra Lev

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Hispanic Pastoral Minister Sr. Karen Lindenberger, St. Anthony/All Saints
Rev. Donald Lindman, Retired
Sister Dominica Lo Bianco, Sisters of St. Francis of Phuladelphia
Sister Mary Norbert Long, Sisters of Charity
Sister Patricia Loughrey, Sisters of St. Joseph
Pastor Kenneth A. Love, Alpha/Omega House Ministries
Rev. Karen Lundwall, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Erie, PA
President Carol Lytch, Lancaster Theological Seminary
Sister Kathleen Mackerer, Sisters of St. Joseph
Reverend Sandra Mackie, Retired
Co-Chair of Immigration Justice, UUPLAN Yvonne Marlier, Unitarian Universalist of Germantown
Judith Marvin, Ist Presbyterian Church, Lewisburg
Sister Cathy McGowan, SSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph
President of Trustees John McGrath, Arch Street United Methodist Church
Sister Margaret Mary McLaughlin, Sisters of St. Joseph
Sister Claire Mcnichol, Sisters of St. Joseph
Bishop Charlie McNutt, Retired
Sister Elizabeth McVeigh, SSJ of Philadelphia
Rev. Fredrica Meitzen, retired, Lutheran Pastor
Reverend Paul Metzloff, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Pastor Raymond Miller, St. John, Quakertown
Rev. Craig Miller, Upper Susquehanna Synod
Sister Dolores Moriarty, Sisters of St. Joseph
Mr. Robert Moyer, Deep Run East Mennonite Church
Brother Robert Moyer, Deep Run East Mennonite Church
Sister Antoinette Munafo, Sisters of St. Joseph
The Rev. Dr. Alex and Nancy Nagy, St. Andrew’s by the Sea
Rev. Christian Nickels, Spring Mount Mennonite Church
Reverend Wayne Nitzsche, Perkasie Mennonite Church
Sister Mary Norbert Long, Sisters of Charity Reverend  Debra  North,  St.  John’s  Lutheran
Sister Patricia O’Donnell, Sisters of Saint Joseph
The Rev. Dr. Mark Oldenburg, Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary
Father John Olenick, Visitation BVM
Ms. Nora ONeill, St Vincent’s
Rev. Dennis Orsen, Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Sister Mary Lou Palas, Sisters of Charity
Sister Mary Lou Palas, Sisters of Charity
Reverend Lynn Parks, Oxford Circle Mennonite Church
Rev. Dr. Gabriele Parks, UU Congregation of Centre County
Member Harilal Patel, Hindu
Rector / Pastor / Rev. J. Patrick Peters, Saint Paul Episcopal Church

Ministry Support Council Moderator Chad Pilling, West Kensington Ministry Simple Layman Keith Pitts, Glad Tidings
Sacristan Pauline Plefka, Sisters of St. Joseph
Sister Ellen Poist, Sister of St. Joseph

Rabbi Patricia Quigley, Mishkan Shalom
Rabbi Michael Ramberg, Ursinus College
Sister Rose A. Reda, Sisters of Saint Joseph Rev. Edgar Reed, Quickel Lutheran, York
Ms. Martha Reeves, Lancaster Friends Meeting Congregant Bethany Reiff, West End Mennonite Sister Marie Rein, SSJ

Rev. David Reppert, Emanuel United Church of Christ
Sister Joan Ricca, Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia
Charles Rihm, Blessed Trinity Catholic Church
Pastor Lillian Rosa, Jehovah-jireh Pentecostal Church
Leadership Councilor Natalie Rossi, Sisters of Mercy New York Pennsylvania Pacific West Pastor Gary Roth, Retired

Chair, St. James Social Justice and Peace Committee, Joyce Rothermel, St. James RC Church, W ilkins burg
Pastor David Rowe, Jerusalem Lutheran Church
Member Kyle Sakamoto, UCC

Sister Lawrence Elizabeth Sandoli, Sisters of St.Joseph, Philadelphia Daniel Sauder, West End Mennonite Fellowship
Sister Gloria Schaab, Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia
Rev. Robert Schaefer, The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Monroeville Reverend Mary Schmotzer, Shiloh United Church of Christ

Religious Sister Anna Louise Schuck, SSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph
General Council Member Sister Susan Seeby, Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes
Cantor Henry Shapiro, Parkway Jewish Center, Wilkins Twp, pa
Rev. Marian Shearer, Calvary United Church of Christ, Reading
Pastor Dane Skilbred, Trinity Lutheran Church, Lansdale, PA
Reverend Buena Smith Dudley, United Council of Churches
Adult Education Chair Heather Speirs, First Unitarian Church
Pastor Roger Steiner, Penn-Zion’s Lutheran Church
Rabbi George Stern, Germantown Jewish Centre
Reverend Melissa Stoller, Zion Lutheran Church
Rev.Joyce Stoltzfus,ElizabethtownChurchoftheBrethren
Rev. Sandra Strauss, Pennsylvania Council of Churches/Market Square Presbyterian Church Pastor Brad Stutzman, Mt. Rock Church
The Rev. Robert Swartz, Mannsville Lutheran Church, Elliottsburg
Rabbi Daniel Swartz, Temple Hesed
Board of Trustees Mukaram Syed, Islamic Community Center of Lancaster
Leader Hugh Taft-Morales, Philadelphia Ethical Society
Pastor Nancy Thayer, Central Baptist Church

Rev. Linda Theophilus, Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Chair of Worship Joan Thomas, Presbyterian
Director, SSJ Welcome Center, Connie Trainor, Sisters of Saint Joseph
Pastor Dona Van Eck, St. Andrew Lutheran
Sister Janice Vanderneck
Activist Member Barbara Vanhorn, UUPLAN
Sister Rose Wagner, Sister of St. Joseph
Pastor Maurine Waun, East Suburban Unitarian Universalist Church
Covenant Member Gwyneth White, Circle of Hope
Cell Leader Sarah White, Circle of Hope
Teaching Pastor Gwen White, Circle of Hope, Philadelphia
Rev. Charlotte Whiting, Salem United Church of Christ of Rohrerstown, Lancaster, PA Campus Pastor Ben Wideman, University Mennonite/3rd Way Collective
Bishop Nancy Wilson, Metropolitan Community Churches
Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace
Member Karen Wolfe, First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia
Sister Anne Wood, Sisters of St. Joseph
Reverend D John Woodcock, International Council of Community Churches
Rev. Gregory Wright, Plymouth Congregational UCC
Spiritual Director Sandra Yeager, Lancaster Metaphysical Chapel
Sister Rose Yeager, St. Veronica Roman Catholic Church
Associate in Ministry Thomas Yenser, Atonement Lutheran Church, Wyomissing, PA Spiritual Assembly Member Behzad Zandieh, Baha’i Community of Harrisburg
Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Mishkan Shalom
Ms. Jennifer Zollner, Montpelier Sangha

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Immigrant led Community Organizing

Our staff manages our campaigns and programs while our members join our working committees to inform our programming, choose our campaigns, and plan our strategies to win. Through conversation and listening, our members and the community on the ground are the ones directing the organization. When people reach out to NSM, they connect with someone who speaks their language, looks like them, and is committed to empowering immigrant communities because they understand their journey and struggle. At NSM, our communities see their peers guiding our mission, creating trust, and allowing members to recognize NSM as an immigrant-led organization.
NSM works to lift the skills of the affected community and dismantle systems of oppression while promoting systems of mutual support, collective liberation, and respect for all people, which is why we provide interpretation services, respect childcare needs, schedule our sessions during times that work best for members who work multiple jobs or cannot meet in person, and allow members to inform us about their individual needs before meetings.
The community leads our work at every level to eliminate unnecessary barriers and meet the varied needs of our members.

Leadership Development

Our Leadership Development Program is a step in recruiting and training new leaders and training. The program blends the skills and experiences members bring from their home countries with NSM’s signature faith-rooted and anti-racist organizing model.

We have curricula for each level of membership, which includes workshops on the history of detention, community organizing, nonviolent protest, campaign strategy, and ongoing anti-racism training. Our programming encourages immigrant leaders to find their voice, understand the power of collective resistance, and join a community of immigrant leaders fighting for transformational systemic changes rooted in social and economic justice.

Leading this initiative is Bertha Murcia, one of NSM's Community Organizers. She is an alumna of NSM’s Promotoras de Justicia immigrant leadership program and oversees member engagement.

Build Community Power

NSM’s organizing efforts emphasize community building, inviting people to new roles, deepening Black and Brown solidarity, long-term leadership development, and impactful campaigns.

We build a base of people from our 33 congregations and Accompaniment Team and direct that people-power to fight specific campaigns. Staff members work with immigrant members to choose our campaigns, guide our strategies, lead events, and ensure our work is focused on meeting the needs of Philadelphia’s various immigrant communities.

Having a hands-on role in changing policy allows our members to gain a sense of empowerment, confidence, and self-respect. Empowering immigrants of color to organize collectively is part of NSM’s long haul work to create a people-powered movement for immigrant justice.