Buen Pastor Vigil Unites Dreams

They say prayers are the same in every language.
This was the hope behind the vigil held at Pullen Memorial Church on Thursday, June 16. Members of Raleigh’s Buen Pastor gathered together with members of the community to unite their voices and speak out against the violation of human rights. Prior to the vigil, SCSJ organized a press conference for Buen Pastor to share their stories with the media and announce the filing of a complaint with the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties over the incident.
Coming home from a church conference in April 2010, 44 congregation members, including small children, were detained by Border Patrol agents. They say they were held for over six hours, until dawn, and were mocked, humiliated, and denied the right to a lawyer and interpreter. They told SCSJ that the police forced them to sign documents that they could not understand by saying that they would take custody of their children.
“We were intimidated. We are frightened,” said Jeremias Villar, one of the members of Buen Pastor.
Border Patrol allegedly claimed that, when they stopped the van, they thought the congregation members were illegally crossing the Mexican-American border.
The group was 300 miles from the border at the time of their detention.
Six church members were deported immediately. SCSJ’s Elizabeth Simpson is representing the group in immigration court.
While members of the congregation shared their reflections of this horrific incident, the atmosphere was one of hope and progress. Even if you did not speak Spanish, it didn’t take an interpreter to understand the strong sense of community inside those walls, a community speaking of unity, peace and action that can fight injustice and restore dignity.