The Islamic Center of Long Island hosted a vigil for humane immigration policies in response to news from the border of intolerable conditions for refugees being detained. Habeeb Ahmed, president of the Center’s Executive Committee, told the gathering of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other allies that “We are all united for humane immigration policies. We must all watch out for each other.” The principal organizer of the vigil, Isma Chaudhry, said that while “there are many faces of hatred, there is only one face of love and compassion.” She called for all of the diverse people of Nassau County to stand as one against hatred.
Lawrence C. Provenzano, the Episcopal Bishop of Long Island, recounted his recent visit with Rev. Marie Tatro to the Southwest Border. “This is a homegrown disaster that we are responsible for creating,” he said, continuing, “The incarceration of children, the separation of families is an unquestionable sin. It isn’t policy, it is evil.” The Bishop announced that his diocese is now a sanctuary for immigrants.
Steven Markowitz, Chairman of the Nassau Holocaust Memorial, said that many Jews died in the Holocaust because they were turned away from the United States and other countries. He warned that we should not repeat the mistakes of the past and fail to protect refugees. Robert Socolof of the American Jewish Committee said that “there are little kids right now who need us to march,” just as the religious community marched with Martin Luther King in the 1960s. He said that “there are children right now who are being treated worse than you could possibly imagine,” and he urged everyone to take action.
Rebecca Sanin, Executive Director of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, told the audience that as a native-born white woman “I lead a life of complete invincibility. I left my house today unafraid, I get to live my life with the privilege of invincibility.” She said that as hatred has exploded in the last year, “many of our neighbors who don’t enjoy that privilege are now afraid to leave their homes…for fear of deportation. These are our neighbors whose health and safety are at risk every day.” New policies from Washington deny the humanity of many immigrants, especially the youngest and most vulnerable, she warned.
I also spoke. I asked that everyone call Tom Suozzi and Kathleen Rice and tell them there should be no increases in funding for ICE and the Border Patrol and that Congress must impose basic human rights protections for detainees in any Appropriations Bill. Even if you did not attend, you can join in the spirit of the vigil by making that call today.
Rep. Kathleen Rice (202) 225-5516
Rep. Tom Suozzi (202) 225-3335