Sanctuary In Action: The VISION Act

Alice Butler, Pastor Tanner and Paige Bence, along with two others, waiting to meet with staff from Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel’s office on May 25

Lakeshore’s commitment to being a Sanctuary Congregation takes many forms. In the past two weeks, members of our team took a virtual trip to Sacramento to advocate for the VISION Act (AB 937). Voiding Inequality and Seeking Inclusion for Our Immigrant Neighbors, more commonly known as the VISION Act, would end direct transfers of immigrants from prison or jail to ICE detention centers. Countless immigrants, upon earning release from prison or jail, are cruelly double-punished by being sent directly to ICE detention for further incarceration. This happens to immigrants who came to the U.S. both legally and illegally, and often adds years of unjust additional imprisonment to people’s lives.

Lakeshore’s Sanctuary Team decided in January that ending these ICE transfers was a priority. We knew the impact of these transfers on our friend Oscar’s life. Having completed a two-month jail sentence, he was transferred directly to ICE detention, unable to return to his family and community. He spent nearly four years needlessly locked away, waiting for his asylum case to work its way through the court system. It was only because of COVID that he was released, due to the intervention of a federal judge and Lakeshore providing a place for him stay.

In March, Lakeshore wrote a letter in support of the VISION Act, and Pastor Tanner has advocated for it in multiple meetings of the State Assembly. On May 25, Alice Butler, Paige Bence and Pastor Tanner joined Immigrant Day, a day when several hundred people throughout California advocate for immigration legislation. Due to schedule conflicts, our meeting was shifted to June 1. The next day, June 2, the VISION Act was discussed on the Assembly floor and narrowly passed! The Assemblymember we spoke with, who was originally not planning to vote for the bill, changed his vote, and I am confident Lakeshore had a part to play in his reconsidering his vote!

Immigrant justice advocates are celebrating this huge victory for the VISION Act, even as we prepare to continue the work as the bill moves to the senate. With the passage in the Assembly, the VISION Act is roughly 1/3 of the way to becoming law. We look forward to the day the cruel practice of ICE transfers has ended, and all people, regardless of citizenship status, will receive equal treatment under the law.