Faith in Fresno held a rally Monday morning in front of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office calling for immigration policies that would protect individuals targeted by the new administration.
The demonstration hosted by faith leaders from Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities drew approximately 50 people holding signs that read “ICE out of Fresno” as well as “Sanctuary is love in action.”
Faith in Fresno Chair Reza Nekumanesh said Presidents Day was an appropriate day for the rally, not because of presidents past, but because of the opportunity to demand that the new president change his stances on deportation and immigration.
The mention of President Donald Trump’s meeting with Sheriff Margaret Mims drew boos from the crowd. Earlier this month, the Fresno County sheriff and other law enforcement leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., to hear the new president discuss his immigration policies, including a crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
At the meeting, Trump asked local law enforcement for help in catching and deporting criminals who are undocumented immigrants – a comment that Rev. Tim Kutzmark of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno referred to as “disturbing.”
“My heart is troubled,” he said.
Kutzmark listed the organization’s demands of the sheriff’s office, including an in-person meeting with their representatives, as well as an end to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s presence in county jails.
The speakers echoed national concerns that the registries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients created under President Barack Obama could be used now to target undocumented individuals. Kutzmark also said local leaders should oppose a faith-based registry.
Maraika Kuipers-Sharsher, a Fresno State student, said the organization has called on Rep. Devin Nunes to support a proposed bill that would offer an extended three-year work authorization to individuals who qualify for DACA.
Congress is on a weeklong recess. Faith in Fresno asked to meet individually with Nunes and Mims last Wednesday.
Monday’s rally follows a march through downtown Fresno on Saturday that drew several hundred people, as well as a Day Without Immigrants on Thursday that saw a few Valley businesses close in protest.
“It’s to get on [Trump’s] case,” Kuipers-Sharsher said of the multiple protests in the month since Trump took office. “It’s to get on the case of our local officials to uphold the needs and the wants of their constituents here in Fresno.”
Nekumanesh added that the rallies have drawn a diverse group of people.
“We’re seeing groups at these protests who have never been to anything,” he said. “Men, women and children coming out for the very first time, or people who have been standing on the same corners they’ve been standing on for decades – either way, it’s bringing those people together.”