As you may know by the media there are some tensions here in southern California with the arrival of children detained at the Southwest border, Border Patrol is brining hundreds of unaccompanied minors to the Federal Processing center at the City of Murrieta in San Bernardino County, ( I live in Rancho Cucamonga, half way between Los Angeles and Murrieta), many residents of this conservative city and some outside groups are blocking the streets impeding the passing of the buses transporting the children, the federal plan was to process the kids there, then move them to detentions centers around Los Angeles metropolitan area. There was some confrontation, between Tea Party style of protesters and a pro-immigrant smaller group . I was in Murrieta on Friday night and the tension was getting close to physical confrontation, on the first day anti-immigrant group was about 100-150 persons, pro-immigrant group was about 50, by the second day anti-immigrants were outnumbered by pro immigrants groups by about 800, (mainly mobilized by popular Mexican singer Lupillo Rivera through Facebook).
Immigrants grass roots organizations are saying they will mobilize hundreds more, now local police and sheriffs have more control keeping groups separated by barricades . To my surprise the local police didn’t made any arrest among the first group of anti-immigrant that blocked the streets and the buses, last time I checked the California penal code, it is an federal offense impeding or interfering with the work of federal agents, I am been arrested at least six times in the last ten years for lesser offenses than that, for example, failing to obey an order to disband, or failing to follow directions from an LAPD officer, blocking traffic, or walking on the street while protesting without the proper permit, or blocking an entrance, refusing to evacuate a district congressional office . I was on probation for a while, last time judge told me don’t want to see me again in court a least for two years, don’t worry my record is clean now 3 years, maybe is about time to go back and see the dear judge.
All over the weekend there are been a lot of organizing and planned actions, mainly trough social media. Today Monday at 9 am, I am invited by the mayor of Los Angeles to participate in a press conference calling for reducing the tensions and calling on the administration to act with compassion. At noon a coalition of central American organizations are calling another press conference and a rally in front of the federal building in downtown LA, I am been asked to initiate with a prayer and few words.
National Latino Evangelical Coalition along with other partner organizations are working with the White House to mobilize some organizations, mega churches and Christians camps around the country to host hundreds of those God children, Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of NaLEC participated on a meeting last Thursday with president Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. I also participated on a conference call with Cecilia Munoz, Director of the Public Policy Council at the White House, later on a conference call with the president of Honduras and some leaders of the Latin American Evangelical Alliance. Today I participated on a call with the minister for foreign affairs of El Salvador, the ambassador of El Salvador in the United States and the General Consul of el Salvador in Los Angeles and Washington DC, they are trying to coordinate efforts with the US Government and the Salvadorian diaspora in the US. At the local level the bishop of the catholic dioceses of San Bernardino is trying to coordinate action (see below link).
On Saturday afternoon I got a call from a reporter from EL Universal of Mexico asking my opinion about the situation, it was yesterday (Sunday) front news in that newspaper. (for the record, they miss quoted me as the representative for Presbyterians in California, apologies to the Synods moderators and all the Presbyteries moderators… (For those of you who are not Spanish limited, you can read the article on the following link:
Yesterday afternoon (Sunday) at my home church I opened the doors to some of the activists who are planning tomorrow noon action for them to organize and prepare signs etc…(ups I didn’t check it with the Session, not time for a called stated meeting, please don’t tell anyone from Pasadena Presbyterian Church, yeah I know the book of order tell me that session is responsible and approves uses of facilities, but it was Sunday afternoon, Korean brothers were gone, small Japanese fellowship was inside the chapel, alternative night service was later, so I guessed I had a couple of hours; also don’t tell the administrator I used church cards boards, paper and markers, ups forgot that I am copying the senior pastor here, He is a good guy and will not tell the session, nor the administrator).
Today is going to be a big day of action and press here in Los Angeles around this particular issue of central American and Mexican refugee children and immigration reform in general. On Tuesday there will be a caravan to one of the military bases in Oxnard, were the feds are planning to house some of the children.
I mourn those days when our Synod trough the ministry of Rev. Don Smith, was an incarnational Presbyterian presence on the Immigrant community of Southern California trough his validated ministry. I am aware that there are other Presbyterians in other Presbyteries in our Synod, who are passionate and active on this, but with our busy life’s and calendars, it really hard to coordinate actions at the Synod level, last year a group of us organized an Immigration conference, about 120 people from at least 4 Presbyteries participated, but then, there was not organization or staff support to follow up. Also the political reality that a majority California delegation in congress is on board for Immigration Reform, with few exceptions, Republican, Darrell Isa (San Diego Presbyterians) and now the new soon to be majority Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Central Valley Presbyterians). Anyways looks like we are now to see what administrative relief will Obama provide, maybe extending DACA benefits to the parents of Dreamers or protecting of deportation the undocumented parents of US born citizens, wait a minute, did I mention He already deported 2 millions of my brothers and sister, but as a consolation prize for our votes, (are your ready for Hillary, oh yeah husband Bill, implemented operation GateKeeper…ask Presbyterians form AridZona to tell you about it. Wait, He may do it few months or weeks before election day, to mobilize the Latino vote, in the hopes on not loosing the Senate, wait, Latino vote saved Senator Harry Reid from NV keeping him as senate majority leader, well in the meantime, we have thousands of unaccompanied children refugees at the southwest border, many of them sexually abused and exploited in their journey; at least baby Jesus was with Joseph and Mary when they escaped to Egypt. Well those children are escaping the drug smugglers, the organized gangs, they are escaping poverty and hunger…and America…We America. America the beautiful, the land of the free…. is putting them in cold jails, even worst sending them back to their suffering, to the hands of their oppressors. Maybe wen need to move the green or blue lady from Ellis Island to the south border. Sorry I forgot I am preaching to the choir here.
One image speaks better than thousand words, I invite you to see at least the first link with five pictures. Please pray, organize and act. Some of you will get a phone call from me this week.
If you need to reach me please feel free to call me at 626-676-0142 or 626 506-5027. I need to get ready, I need to beat the traffic in order to be at Los Angeles City Hall by 8:00 am. For those of you in LA area it will be great if you can show up at the Federal Building at noon. 300 N Los Angeles St, apologies about the last minute notice but all of this was organized on the fly.
“Cuando el pobre nada tiene y aun reparte, cuando alguien pasa sed y aguan nos da, cuando el debil a su hermano fortalece…va Dios mismo en su mismo caminar, va Dios mismo, en su mismo caminar….or cuando te vimos, desnudo, hambriento, sediento o en la carcel…
Elder Ricardo Moreno
Associate for Latino/Hispanic Ministry
Pasadena Presbyterian Church (PCUSA).
“Sacred Space for the City, Sacred Space for All People”