BY CARLY MARGOLIS
Since December, ECM has been involved in a national campaign to support immigrant rights leader and Episcopal Service Corps alum Eduardo Samaniego. This post tells the story of the partnerships between Episcopal and grassroots leaders that helped fuel the campaign led by Pioneer Valley Workers Center, where Eduardo was an organizer.
On January 16, ECM answered a national call to host a vigil for immigrant rights leader and Episcopal Service Corps alum Eduardo Samaniego, as he awaited a decision on whether he would be offered bond or ordered deported. In 2017 Eduardo Samaniego was an intern with the Lawrence House Service Corps. His internship was in Campus Ministry and was based at Grace Church in Amherst, MA. Eduardo was arrested in Georgia in October after forgetting his wallet and being unable to pay a cab fare; due to the 287(g) agreement in Cobb County, GA, Eduardo was transferred to ICE detention and spent 106 days in prison. For three of these weeks, he was placed in solitary confinement due to his identity as an activist.
The vigil at St. Paul's Cathedral was one of over twenty solidarity actions across the country, from Los Angeles to Atlanta to Washington, DC. Pioneer Valley Workers Center led the national campaign to #FreeEduardo with incredible love. We were grateful to take their leadership as we garnered the support of hundreds of clergy and thousands of other friends of Eduardo. (Media coverage: Boston Globe)
Bishop Doug Fisher of the Episcopal Diocese of western MA joined the Reverend Canon Tanya Wallace from the Lawrence Fellows Service Corps, an Episcopal Service Corps young adult internship program, and Margaret Sawyer from the Pioneer Valley Workers Center to rally in support of Eduardo. They gathered at the ICE office in Springfield. (Media coverage: The Gazette)
On February 1, Eduardo was deported to Mexico after being forced to agree to a “voluntary departure” order by Immigration Judge William A. Cassidy on January 25th.
In a letter written prior to his release, Eduardo wrote: "My dreams and hopes - that took years to form fighting in the streets for universal healthcare, access to education, and amnesty for all immigrants - are still inside and they burn with a passion."
We lift up the solidarity efforts between the Pioneer Valley Worker Center and the Episcopal dioceses and many Episcopal communities in western MA. This time calls for these kind of partnerships in light of the moral crisis. May we continue to tell Eduardo's story and amplify the voices of undocumented leaders as we work to end mass incarceration and the targeting of immigrants, especially immigrants of color, by all levels of our government.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
To support Eduardo and his family, please continue to share his story and donate to his emergency fund at https://www.gofundme.com/emergency-fund-for-eduardo. If you would like to be involved in immigrant justice accompaniment or advocacy contact Carly@episcopalcitymission.org.
Speak up about the human rights violations at Irwin County Detention Center, where Eduardo was detained, and other private prisons. (Media coverage: Rolling Stone)