Brace yourself, the following will be the cold truth. Nine black churchgoers are dead in Charleston at the hand of a white supremacist. Do we vilify all white people? Far too many people of color have been wrongly gunned down by police. Do we do away with all law enforcement? And countless immigrants have been victims of violent crime in this country. Do we blame all Americans? We don’t.
And yet, when a sole immigrant commits a heinous act, many in our country are ready to paint all immigrants as criminals and dismantle policies that protect the dignity and rights of immigrants as human beings.
The shooting of Kathryn Steinle has turned American tensions over immigration into a political feeding frenzy. On trial is San Francisco’s Sanctuary City policy which discourages local police involvement in immigration enforcement. Sanctuary Cities and limits on dangerous and unconstitutional over-reach of ICE through “holds” are something FAME and the faith community, immigrant rights groups, and many EBASE supporters like you have fought so hard for over the years.
One man’s horrible act and political opportunism are threatening to unravel years of our work to make the Bay Area a place that welcomes immigrants. Many of you have put in hours, days, weeks, and years of your lives to honor our history as a nation of immigrants; honor our many faith traditions that call us to welcome the stranger; and to honor the women and men who come to this country to work hard, contribute to society, and fulfill the American Dream. Or for many, we provide safety and refuge to those forced to flee their home countries.
FAME and EBASE grieve the loss of Kathryn Steinle and our thoughts go out to her loved ones. But in our grief, we must avoid criminalizing an entire community for the crimes committed by one individual. We urge you to continue to stand with us for just policies for the immigrant community that respect people’s dignity as our fellow community members. And together, we can make our country safer for all who live and work here.
In solidarity and faith,
Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy Director
Photos courtesy of Causa Justa: Just Cause