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US faith groups rally around grandfather threatened with deportation

Catalino Guerrero and Richard Morales, Immigration Policy Director with PICO National Network image: Heather Wilson, PICO National Network

Catalino Guerrero and Richard Morales, Immigration Policy Director with PICO National Network image: Heather Wilson, PICO National Network

Source: PICO

Clergy leaders with Faith in New Jersey, a member of PICO National Network, the largest grassroots and faith-based organizing network in the United States, will gather for the 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 9am hearing on March 10, the faith leaders will meet and pray with Catalino in front of the Peter Rodino Federal Building, 970 Broad Street, Newark, NJ, 07102. Some will attempt to accompany him inside the ICE building and are requesting Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez do the same.

"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."

In February 2017, ICE officials suddenly summoned Guerrero to his 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 after his former attorney bungled the paperwork, Guerrero has faced one obstacle after another. He desperately wants an opportunity to become a citizen.

"I, like so many others, was born in the United States through no assertion of will or choice, but by chance," said Pastor Carmine Pernine 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 - that 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 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 neighbours need to feel care and support in this moment."

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