Sanctuary tour: Phoenix with Misael at Shadow Rock UCC

After a sad goodbye with Arturo, Ana, and the team at First Unitarian Society of Denver, we headed off to Phoenix to visit Misael Cabrera at Shadow Rock UCC!

Misael is originally from Guatemala and worked as a roofer in Phoenix for 9 years. He entered into deportation after police in Phoenix pulled him over and turned him in to ICE for deportation. Misael described deplorable conditions in the prison where he was incarcerated for 15 years. The prison is called “the tents” because it is just that – a big tent without beds, where all the inmates sleep on the floor and are given food only once a day, and the toilet is in the same open room. It sounds very similar to the private prison facility for immigrant detainees in Texas where inmates recently rioted because of the terrible conditions.

Misael decided to take Sanctuary after losing his case and receiving a final order of deportation. His cousin in Guatemala was recently tortured and murdered, so his potential deportation is not just about returning him to Guatemala: it’s a matter of life and death.

Misael is a wonderful musician who plays piano and sings in both church services. He sang with us, played piano, and bass and (pretty unsuccessfully!) tried to teach us how to play simple chords on the piano in his room. Misael is deeply religious and frequently reads his Bible in his bedroom in Sanctuary. Check out this video of Angela and Misael singing together! 

Shadow Rock UCC is a beautiful church settled against the mountains of Phoenix. Misael has entered into Sanctuary the day before Angela, on November 17, 2014, and has been fighting his case from Sanctuary for three months. The love  and deep care between Misael and the Shadow Rock community was immediately evident. Shadow Rock is a UCC church who’s tagline “You are welcome” is lived out in practice with their Sanctuary campaign. Misael is Pentecostal and with the help of Pastor Ken at Shadow Rock has started a Latin American Pentecostal church that uses the Shadow Rock facilities every Sunday! They were planning a baptism and shared meal between the UCC and Pentecostal church that coming Sunday.

After spending a day together sharing experiences, singing, laughing, and building a strong relationship, Angela, Manrique, and Nicole held a workshop for immigrant justice supporters at Shadow Rock. We talked about how we organized our Sanctuary organizing committee, strategies for receiving petition signatures, and how to do a letter writing campaign. The team at Shadow Rock has so much commitment and energy – they immediately started dividing up tasks with the ambitious goal of getting 2,000 petition signatures and 500 support letters in the next two weeks!

Misael and his team need to get to 2,000 signatures on his petition before the week of March 9. Can you sign Misael’s petition to keep him home with his church family?