Immigrant Justice

Our Theory of Change

Many in our community feel at home in the Berkshires. It can be, as one of our leaders once described, “like living in a Norman Rockwell painting,” spending time in tiny towns of rosy, smiling faces and never questioning that you belong.

 

However, not all residents of our county are painted on that iconic canvas. Our friends from the growing immigrant, Latino, and Spanish-speaking communities are increasingly left at the margins.

Through relationship building in these communities, we’ve learned that a major barrier is our broken immigration system.

 

An opaque system, combined with heightened anti-immigrant sentiment and policies spreading in our nation, has resulted in many of our immigrant and Latino neighbors living in fear and isolation.

 

Our goal is to fight this trend by empowering leaders within the Latino and immigrant community, as well as our leaders with American citizenship, to speak up and make systemic change.

Our Current Work

Today, we’re working on immigrant justice in two major ways.

 

One is the creation of the Berkshire Sanctuary Network, a network of congregations who will shelter an undocumented immigrant facing an unjust deportation and buy them time to find a legal remedy and secure legal status. We currently have seven Level 2 congregations, who are committed to supporting a future Level 1 congregation where the immigrant would actually live.

 

The second is the BIO Accompaniment Program, which launched in March 2019. We’ve trained over 75 volunteers to travel with an undocumented immigrant to their ICE check-ins to provide moral support, bear public witness to their interactions with law enforcement, and assist in case an emergency arises during the check-in. 

 

Through all of this work, we’ve connected deeply with our immigrant partners. Despite the language barrier, we understand that we share a strong commitment to justice, and love and concern for each other’s safety and wellbeing.

 

We are committed to bringing our immigrant community into relationship with the entire community, and fighting together for systemic change.

Join Our Team

Community members who... are invited to reach out to Maria Quien, chair of our Immigrant Justice Team, to learn how to get involved.

 

We currently have seven Level 2 congregations, who are committed to supporting a future Level 1 congregation where the immigrant would actually live.

Contact Maria Quien, Immigrant Justice Team Chair

 

Contacta a Maria Quien, Líder del Equipo de Justicia Inmigrante

Campaigns At A Glance

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Berkshire Sanctuary

Network

Providing shelter from unjust imminent deportation

We're building the Berkshire Sanctuary Network, a network of congregations who will shelter an undocumented immigrant facing an unjust deportation and buy them time to find a legal remedy and secure legal status.

 

We currently have seven Level 2 congregations, who are committed to supporting a future Level 1 congregation where the immigrant would actually live.

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Accompaniment 

Program

Accompanying undocumented immigrants to their ICE check-ins

We’ve trained over 75 volunteers to travel with an undocumented immigrant to their ICE check-ins to provide moral support, bear public witness to their interactions with law enforcement, and assist in case an emergency arises during the check-in.

 

So far we’ve accompanied close to 20 immigrants, two of which have been released from the intensive supervision program due to their consistent and timely appearances!

Learn more here.

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Welcoming Resolution and Trust Policies

Preventing local police from collaborating with ICE in non-criminal cases

In Great Barrington, we ran a joint campaign with Multicultural BRIDGE. We united community members from all walks of life to write a policy which ensures that local police do not work with ICE to deport undocumented immigrants, outside of criminal cases.

 

The policy passed in 2017 with a vote of 250 to 3, and immigrants in Great Barrington immediately reported feeling safer leaving their homes to go to work, spend time with family, and attend worship services.

The Berkshire Sanctuary Network​

We deeply thank the seven covenanted congregations that have united to form the Berkshire Sanctuary Network!

First Church of Christ on Park Square, Pittsfield

First Congregational Church Williamstown

Lee Congregational Church, Lee

South Congregational Church, Pittsfield

St. John's Episcopal Church, Williamstown

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Pittsfield

Unitarian Universalist Church, Pittsfield