The Faith Network was founded in March 2017, when leaders from Somos Un Pueblo Unido, Santa Fe Dreamers Project, and New Mexico Immigrant Law Center called together a handful of people connected to faith communities and immigration justice. They asked for support in organizing the faith community to be effective allies to the immigrant community. We brainstormed together and decided on Immigration 101 as a first event to educate non-immigrants about the context of this work and current policies. At that event, we had a sign-up list and invited people to start meeting regularly with us. We began meeting monthly in April 2017. We have consistently had 20-30 people at our monthly meetings, mostly lay leaders representing many different faith communities in Santa Fe.
Soon after we began to meet regularly, Allegra Love called our leadership together and said that SF Dreamers would need direct support for their clients at Cibola Detention Center. Along with the NM Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice, we created a volunteer-run system and hotline for fielding needs for transportation, housing, and other types of accompaniment support for released asylum-seekers. We have housed and transported, clothed and fed dozens of individuals in need of support post-release. We continue to have a particular focus on Cibola Detention Center, though the needs and responses have shifted over time.
We have also raised money for Somos and Dreamers, supported the work of the Adelante program for homeless families and youth, promoted Dreamers and Somos in messaging and events, collaborated on court accompaniment for immigrants with legal cases, and organized and educated faith communities around “four walls Sanctuary.”
Our hope is to use our faith networks to amplify the work of those on the frontlines of immigrant justice. Most of our FNIJ members identify as allies to immigrants, though some of our leaders are themselves immigrants. We are currently organized into a general group of members who come to monthly meetings, a Core Team of organizers, and some other ad hoc teams that work on various projects as they arise.
We host larger public events in addition to our ongoing organizing and accompaniment work. Some examples have included: Immigration 101, Sanctuary 101, Transgender 101, ICE bystander training, and a bilingual multi-faith service for immigrant justice.