By Arthur McClanahan*
A group of twelve people from Iowa will participate in a prayer vigil in support of the children bring held at the U.S. southern border. The event, to be held in front of the White House, will also call for an end to all deportations, and demand expanded deferred action for all undocumented immigrants.
Iowa's group of ten adults and two children, ages 5 and 7, will march with hundreds of others from the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill to the White House carrying pictures of persons who have been deported.
According to Bill Mefford, Director of Civil and Human Rights for the General Board of Church and Society, "We will then engage in peaceful civil disobedience until we are arrested. This action will show that we have done all that we can with Congress. It is time for no more excuses!"
Nataly Espinoza said that the Iowa group is looking to "do the right thing for our community. We're wishing and hoping to do the right thing for the kids who are at the border." She described the prayer service, recently held at Trinity Las Americas UMC to support those going to Washington. "It reminded everybody about how Iowans are welcoming to everybody" as well as sharing that example to groups in other states.
Speaking about the events in Washington she added, "We plan to call for change. Nobody's really happy with the situation. Our government needs to find a way to fix it. We believe the kids at the border need homes...heir situation is really hard."
Approximately 140 people including United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcano will participate in an act of civil disobedience. "It will be an extra effort," Espinoza said, "to show this country that we have principles that say that these children are human beings and they need our help. We plan to pray in front of the White House for two hours."
Speaking of the urgency of the witness, she said, "The time is now!"
Wendy Vazquez, another member of the group, said, "The reason that we are going to the White House is because Congress has refused to act on immigration reform. What we're specifically asking for is deferred action for the children who don't have a criminal background. That's something that's well within the President's power to give. Our Bishop and Bishop Carcano were arrested a few months ago because they were supporting reform," she added.
The July 31 witness is being organized by United Methodists, the United Church of Christ, and people from other faith traditions, according to Vazquez.
Rev. Brian Carter, who is also part of the Iowa group, stated that six Iowans plan to be arrested. They have been briefed about what is entailed by being detained and will have some additional orientation prior to heading to the White House. "It's important to say," Carter noted, "this will be a non-violent witness calling for immigration reform and care for the children at the border."
*Dr. Arthur McClanahan is the Iowa Conference Director of Communications