August 7, 2018
A Call to Action (and Reflection) on Behalf of the Asylum Seekers in the Federal Prison in Sheridan
We’d like to draw your attention to a series of direct actions from people of faith getting ready to take place in Oregon that we believe will be of particular interest to faith leaders throughout the state. We know you’re aware of the ongoing saga of family separations following President Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” immigration policy, but in addition to the large number of families that remain separated, hundreds of asylum seekers remain in federal custody. Here in the Pacific Northwest, many of these parents and asylum seekers are being held in the Federal Prison in Sheridan, Ore.

The stories coming out of Sheridan are horrendous—lack of access to medical care, violation of religious custom, restrictive access for clergy, and a recent suicide attempt. As of this week, most of the individuals have passed their credible fear interview and can be released into the care of the community, while their case goes before an immigration judge. A local group of faith leaders (the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, or IMIrJ) has formally asked that this happen immediately, but so far the local ICE Director Elizabeth Godfrey has refused to “Let Our People Go.”
Starting on Tuesday, August 7, we will be holding a series of actions inspired by the Exodus story. Each action will involve different faith leaders re-delivering our formal ask of the ICE director, along with a theological reflection rooted on the Exodus story and its relevance in our times. Once these letters have been delivered to our local ICE headquarters in Portland, Ore., the faith leaders will refuse to leave until they are arrested and taken away physically. Outside, our crowd of supporters will have signs held aloft listing the “plague” and bible verse of that day’s action.

Our prayer is that with your help. These August Actions will convince more and more people to join our call to ICE (see call-in script below), and that a rising tide of community pressure will convince ICE to do the right thing.
Here’s what we’re hoping for from each of you:
We believe that the same God who freed the Hebrews from Egypt is still working in the world today, and that these actions are more than just a clever gimmick to get press attention. The actions of our government and ICE in particular read like the actions of Pharaoh, and we’re hoping that you might be interested in publicly reflecting on what is happening here in whatever way you see fit (sermons, op-eds, blog and/or Facebook posts) . We believe this is an opportunity to do more than just free these particular detainees, this is an occasion for faith leaders across our state to examine what is happening in 2018 in the light of our sacred wisdom traditions. 
What format your promotion of this conversation takes is of course up to you, but we would hope that if you do pick up this vital theological conversation, you would cite the situation in Sheridan specifically and even help us promote the “Calling Campaign Script” you will find below. This includes the phone number of local ICE Director Elizabeth Godfrey, and the script we’re asking people to loosely follow when calling and demanding her to free the legal asylum seekers in the Federal Prison in Sheridan, Ore. The supporting resources below will help you link your work to the larger campaign we will be launching, but all social media can be yoked together with #LetOurPeopleGo.
Supporting resources for your public reflection:
>> The “Let Our People Go” Calling Campaign Script ( download script ).
>> The IMIrJ Facebook page , which will offer up-to-date info and videos of each action.
If you have any other questions, ideas or insights, please feel free to reach out to The Rev. Michael Ellick at or (646) 734-0162.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this email. We are living in extraordinary times, and as people of faith we believe God is calling us to do a new thing together.
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
503-221-1054 | |