Churches respond to threats of ICE raids

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The LAist and ABC7 both reported from Episcopal churches in the area that saw significant numbers of people staying away from Sunday services for fear of being swept up in ICE actions that the @realDonaldTrump twitter account had predicted for the weekend.

The LAist reports:

On Sunday morning, reports of raids across the country were few. In L.A., there weren’t any more arrests by ICE agents than usual.

The threat alone, however, was enough to keep people from going to church on Sunday, said Sonia Garcia, a parishioner at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Lincoln Heights.

“A lot of us are missing today,” Garcia said. “I think it’s because people are scared by all the talk about the raids.”

In all, about 30 people attended the church’s Spanish-language service at 10 a.m., less than half of the regular crowd.

Tom Carey, the church’s vicar, said most of his congregants are of Central American origin, and the potential of ICE raids has been a major topic of conversation.

“We’re all talking about it,” Carey said. “I am not aware of anyone in my congregation that is in immediate danger, but everyone knows someone who is.”

ABC7 found a similar story in Pasadena:

Many church members at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena didn’t show up for Sunday services for fear of the raids and possible arrests by ICE agents, according to a member from the congregation’s immigration task force.

But many churches are offering advice on how to deal with immigration agents at their doors, and some, including the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Lincoln Heights, are offering sanctuary to immigrants. The LAist again:

Carey said that the church will protect anyone who fears being detained by ICE. He and other parishioners have contingency plans in place in case anyone in the community needs assistance.

“We are a sanctuary church,” congregant Dinora Herrera said. “If the vicar isn’t here, my husband can open the church if anyone needs it.”

It remains unclear where, how, or when the ramped-up ICE raids predicted by the President’s twitter account will materialize; but in the meantime, churches are taking their members’ fears seriously, and offering sanctuary, solace, and counsel where they can.

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