In Response to Jesus Lara’s Deportation, Ohio Faith Leaders Call For Compassionate and Reasonable Responses to Immigration


June 18, 2017



Michelle Nealy,, (202)735-7123

Dan Clark,, (614)614-3663

Amanda Hoyt,, (614)483-3168


In Response to Jesus Lara’s Deportation, Ohio Faith Leaders Call For Compassionate and Reasonable Responses to Immigration


Cleveland, Ohio -- On Tuesday, July 18th, Jesus Lara Lopez, a U.S. resident since 2001 and father of 4 U.S.-born children, was deported. He left his family behind at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. In the weeks leading up to the deportation, diverse and prominent faith leaders called on Rep. Bob Gibbs and Sen. Rob Portman to intervene with ICE to prevent this immoral and aggressive enforcement of immigration policies that don’t work.


Pastor Dustin White, Radial Church, Canton, OH:

"As a pastor, it is alarming to watch Representative Gibbs and Senator Portman, who claim the same Christian faith that I do, balk at the case of Jesus Lara. Silence in the face of unjust laws makes a mockery of the values we are called to uphold. Now is the time for our nation's leaders to join the community of faith in pursuing just and equitable immigration legislation so that no one else will be forced to endure the heartbreak of Jesus and his family."


Father Vincent Petersen, OFM Conv. (The Order of Friars Minor Conventual), Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, Carey, OH:

“As a pastor who has struggled to promote leadership among the laity, I have lost some very good lay ministers. They retreated into the shadows for fear that they would be 'caught and deported.' There is so much heartache that happens in a parish when some of its members have to live in fear. Let's change this outdated and cruel immigration system!”


Rev. Ricky Branham, Ripley Chapel, Willard, OH:

"I met with Jesus and his family on a couple of occasions to let them know that we are praying for them all. I believe it is of utmost importance to show the love and mercy of God to a family that is hurting. Furthermore, I was impressed to know that Jesus was doing everything he could to provide for his family and trying to help them remain calm despite the tough journey he knew they all had ahead. My prayer is that families like this can stay together because dividing them is not beneficial for any family, for any community or for any country."


Chrissy Stonebraker-Martinez, InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia, Cleveland, OH:

“Our system has failed. My heart is broken, because we couldn't offer refuge for Jesus Lara. My soul laments the fact that the US prioritized power and prejudice over families. I will work for people like Jesus and families like the Laras until all vulnerable civilians find safety and home.”



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