KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Representatives of Holston churches and the Holston Conference Outreach/Advocacy Team are joining in a 24-hour interfaith vigil on April 4-5, protesting massive U.S. deportation of immigrants.
Organized by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, the centerpiece event will be held Friday, April 4, 7-8:30 p.m. at 400 West Main Street in downtown Knoxville, across from the City County Building.
The vigil officially -- #Not1More: 24-Hour Vigil to Stop Deportations -- begins Friday, April 4, at noon and concludes on Saturday, April 5, at noon.
East Tennesseans are joining in a national day of action calling on President Obama to extend deferred action and other forms of prosecutorial discretion to stop mass deportations, according to Susan Montgomery, chair of Holston's Outreach/Advocacy Team.
"There is concern about the number of families, and especially children, left vulnerable by the deportation of their loved ones," Montgomery said. "Our current immigration system is broken, and humane comprehensive immigration reform is essential."
Since Obama took office in 2009, 2 million people have been deported from the U.S., Montgomery said.
The United Methodist Board of Church and Society and other United Methodist churches and organizations are also participating in the international effort, spearheaded by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and calling for action on the weekend of April 5-6.
On March 27, Bishop Sally Dyck became the third United Methodist bishop to be arrested since President’s Day in an international campaign calling for President Barack Obama to stop deporting immigrants with no criminal record, which is separating children from their parents.
On Feb. 17, Bishops Minerva Carcaño and Julius Trimble were among those arrested by U.S. park police in front of the White House as they called for an end to deportations.
United Methodists across Holston Conference are encouraged to participate in the call to action by joining the April 4-5 vigil in Knoxville, Montgomery said.
"I hope that you will join us and send out the word to your congregations and friends and to anyone concerned about the two million people who have been deported and the families who are deeply affected," she said. "Anyone is welcome for part of the 24-hour vigil or just 15 minutes -- whatever time you are able to join and have your voice and presence with us."