By Nate Seeskin
AVODAH Organizing Fellow, JCUA
“Do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed.” (Isaiah 1:17)
JCUA Executive Director Judy Levey echoed these powerful words recently (Sept. 20) as she stood alongside other religious leaders in a press conference outside the door of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Church in Little Village.
Emceed by Fr. José Landaverde, clergy and leaders from different religious organizations expressed their support for an undocumented immigrant and her two U.S.-born children who are all receiving sanctuary at the church while under threat of deportation. Beatriz Santiago-Ramirez, an immigrant from Mexico, is a victim of violence and is eligible for a U Visa, but failure to be certified by public officials has instead left her subject to deportation and separation from her children.
Concluding the event, Rev. John Thomas from the Chicago Theological Seminary led a prayer and then the clergy removed their shoes as a symbol of holiness as they proceeded to walk into the church where they recited additional prayers.
JCUA participated in this event to call attention to the need for humane treatment of immigrants and welcoming the stranger. Numerous lines within Jewish texts voice this sentiment, especially in highlighting the experiences of the Jewish people as slaves in Egypt: “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).
Many of the congregations represented at this event are part of the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition (CNSC), a group of immigrant-welcoming religious organizations. CNSC is under the umbrella of the Sanctuary Movement, which is currently growing and operates in 12 American cities.