WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two United Methodist bishops, Bishop Minerva Carcano of the Los Angeles Area, and Julius Trimble of the Iowa Area, were arrested on Presidents Day as they participated in an immigration policy rally on the sidewalk outside the White House.
They were joined by 30 other faith leaders and immigrants, including Harriet Jane Olson, General Secretary of United Methodist Women.
The small rally began in Lafayette Park, just north of the White House. After marching across the street, the group of 32 kneeled and stood and began to pray and sing.
“We’re here to protest the deportations under President Obama’s administration as it approaches the 2 millionth person deported,” said Bishop Trimble. He, along with Bishop Carcano, are the co-chairs of the United Methodist Interagency Task Force on Immigration.
“This impacts our families, particularly our neighbors, that live in our communities,” the bishop said before being arrested. “While we’ve been patiently waiting and advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, we continue to see families disrupted and broken-up by being arrested and detainment.”
Bishop Trimble said that he and many others think that the president can do more, and that now is the time for the faith community to raise its voice, even if that means civil disobedience. Bishop Trimble said he was participating in the act of civil disobedience to be in solidarity with those who are already being detained.
“I don’t take this (being arrested) lightly, but I’m doing this in solidarity with our sisters and brothers, some who are documented, some who are not documented,” he said. “As Martin Luther King said, ‘It’s always the right time to do what is right.’ I believe this is the right time to speak up.”
Bishop Carcano, who has been a leader in advocating for immigration reform, said that she chose to be arrested because some undocumented immigrants were doing so as a form of protest.
“I’ve chosen to participate in the act of civil disobedience because our undocumented brothers and sisters, our immigrant brothers and sisters, are taking that stand,” she said. “Something needs to be done. And if they’re willing to take that risk, at the danger of being deported, I need to stand with them as well.”
Bishop Carcano said that as the United States deports its 2 millionth person under the Obama administration, it was time for all people of faith to make their voices heard.
“We’re almost at 2 million under this administration, and that’s too many,” she said. “None of those poor, hard-working immigrants should have been deported. But they’re being deported as a scapegoat to a broken immigration system; as a scapegoat to a non-functioning Congress, a Congress that doesn’t have a good moral judgment; a president who can’t seem to lead us on comprehensive immigration reform need; and so we’re here to say enough is enough.”
Bishop Trimble added that United Methodists especially need to make their voices heard.
“I think people of faith ought to be putting a lot more pressure on our president as well as our elected representatives in the House and the Senate,” he said, “and to do that immediately. They tell us that they’re waiting to hear from their constituents, so we need to do that. And we need to say that it’s been long enough, we’ve waited for some progress on immigration reform, and also it’s been long enough that we need to stop feeding the prison industry by detaining folks and separating families.”