Faiths come together to ask for compassion for people in Philly facing deportation

Two families are currently living in sanctuary through a local church.

Justin Udo
October 29, 2018 - 11:30 am
More than a dozen people stood in solidarity with religious leaders and participated in a prayer meeting in front of the Immigration Customs Enforcement building in Center City.

Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — More than a dozen people stood in solidarity with religious leaders and participated in a prayer meeting in front of the Immigration Customs Enforcement building in Center City on Monday morning.

Collectively, they prayed that the agency will approve a two-year stay of removal for two families in sanctuary.

"To those who make the decisions, touch their hearts, oh God," prayed Bob Coombe, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Germantown, the church housing and providing sanctuary to the Thompson and Reyes families, from Jamaica and Honduras, respectively, who recently applied to ICE for a two-year stay of removal.

"We like to be close to the people we are praying for," he said.

The two families face deportation if they leave the church.

"Both families experienced violence at home and death, with family members," he said. "Why should we make them return to that condition? Would we want to go back? Would we do that to ourselves?"

Coombe said this has been a tough ordeal for the families.

"They had to give up their jobs. They had to leave their homes," he added.

Lydia Munoz, the lead pastor of Church of the Open Door, said they are "asking for clemency and mercy and patience. All the things that make us great as a country."

Munoz said, "They're anxious, they're nervous, they're tense. They're worried but they're not hopeless."

She noted both families are going through the proper processes to gain citizenship, but it's long and arduous. And they cannot return to their countries, because they are "fleeing violence and poverty and trying to keep their whole unit together."

Munoz said they are also praying for ICE officials.

"We know they are trying to keep the rule of government, but there is something beyond law, and that's the law of love," Munoz said.

Even though the families could not be there in person, they prayed with the group over the phone for the chance to leave sanctuary some day.

"In the name of the God, who is life, and love, and peace ... Amen," Coombe said in prayer.