Network launches to support immigrantsBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
October 30. 2017 10:47PM
MANCHESTER — Nearly 200 people braved driving rain and high winds Sunday night to celebrate the formal launch of the New Hampshire Immigrant Solidarity Network during an event at St. Anne-St. Augustin Parish.
The network was informally launched nearly six months ago by the Granite State Organizing Project to unify people statewide in support of immigrants. According to organizers, many members of the new network have also participated in several interfaith prayer vigils outside the Norris Cotton Federal Building on Chestnut Street in Manchester.
“The urgency of this moment of our nation’s history calls us, compels us, to stand against the unconscionable acts of deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the immoral expressions of racism that are currently tearing families apart and seeking to fragment and divide us as a nation,” said Carol Backus, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Manchester and president of the Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP).
Those attending Sunday’s launch heard testimony from members of the Indonesian and Latino immigrant communities about family separation, stress and anxiety caused by recent upticks in arrests and deportations by ICE. Several clergy and faith leaders shared the reasons why their congregations have joined the network.
Father Samuel Fuller of St. Anne-St. Augustin Parish referenced the Old Testament, saying to “treat the alien among you as native born, as you were once from Egypt,” while the Rev. John Gregory Davis of Meriden Congregational Church referenced the New Testament’s call to welcome, feed and clothe the stranger.
The Rev. Allison Palm of the Nashua Unitarian Universalist Church announced that 25 faith communities have joined the network, along with more than 100 individual faith leaders representing an additional 30 congregations.
Members of the network pledged to “respond to the fear and anxiety in our community as a result of an increase in immigration enforcement, heightened law enforcement and random acts of hate” with actions including:
• Physical and spiritual accompaniment of immigrants who have to report to ICE;
• Support for people who are detained and for their families;
• Sanctuary in houses of worship for people fearing deportation; and
• Rapid response to ICE raids and to acts of violence rooted in racism and xenophobia.
The Rev. Eric Jackson, pastor of Brookside Congregational Church, read from a letter from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH.
“Our heritage is one of engaging and helping the people who flee violence and hardship in their homelands for the promise of a better future in our country,” wrote Shaheen. “It makes me proud to know that you are coming together to send this powerful message of compassion and inclusion and stand tall for the principles that we as Granite Staters hold so dear. I want to thank everyone for coming out today and for what you will do in the future.”