March 9, 2017
(Press Release Courtsey of PICO National Network)
Clergy leaders with Faith in New Jersey, a member of PICO National Network, the largest grassroots and faith-based organizing network in the nation, will gather for a second time in support of Catalino Guerrero, an undocumented immigrant facing deportation under the new administration. Following his check-in on February 8, ICE officials told Guerrero to report to the immigration office again on March 10 and be prepared to surrender his passport. Guerrero, a law-abiding grandfather of four, is fighting to remain in the United States with his family. Immediately prior to his 9:00 am hearing on March 10, the faith leaders will meet and pray with Catalino in front of the Peter Rodino Federal Building 970 Broad Street in Newark, NJ 07102. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, is expected to accompany Mr. Guerrero and his lawyer inside the ICE building.
“As faith leaders, we are called to recognize and underscore the humanity and dignity of every single individual as a unique person and, at the same time, resist any attempts to demonize or characterize refugees as sinister, faceless threats,” said Cardinal Tobin. “We are here today to bear witness and to appeal to the conscience of our nation to spare this man, and countless others like him, whose only offense was to seek a better life for his family.”
In February 2017, ICE officials suddenly summoned Guerrero to the local immigration office. During the meeting, ICE refused to accept Guerrero’s prosecutorial discretion application for a stay. Following the meeting, ICE asked Guerrero to come back to the immigration office on March 10 and be prepared to surrender his passport.
“As people of faith we are called to support those in our midst who are being threatened,” said the Rev. John A. Mennell of St. Luke's Episcopal Church. “When we stand with Catalino, we take a stand in the face of injustice to build a pathway to a community where all are truly welcome."
Guerrero fled Puebla, Mexico in 1991 in pursuit of economic opportunity and an escape from a crime-ridden area. He has long sought a pathway to citizenship, but has faced one obstacle after another after his former attorney bungled the paperwork. He desperately wants an opportunity to become a citizen.
“I, like so many others, was born in the US through no assertion of will or choice but chance,” said Pastor Carmine Pernini of Zion Lutheran Church. “My brother in Christ, Catalino, through no act of volition was born elsewhere. Yet, because of these arbitrary details you and I are led to believe that someone like Catalino should go and I should not? I am stuck on the idea that I should make such grave decisions or draw such weighty conclusions based on things – such as place of birth -- which you or I have no control over. Therefore, I stand with Catalino because I have no claim to this land unless I fight for the rights of those who choose it - immigrants, refugees and those seeking asylum.”
“Our faith tells us to stand up with Catalino and all those who dream of freedom,” said Rabbi Joel Abraham of Temple Sholom in Scotch Plains.
“The Prophet Muḥammad instructed his followers to take care of the needs of our neighbors,” said Imam Saffet Catovic of Drew University. “Our undocumented neighbors need to feel care and support in this moment,” Catovic concluded.
In addition to clergy, public officials play an integral part in resisting unjust policies and protecting vulnerable communities,” said Richard Morales, immigration policy director for PICO National Network. “They shouldn’t wait until immigrants are detained to stand with hurting families.”
Contact: Jennifer Farmer, 202.306.0136 or firstname.lastname@example.org