BOISE, Idaho — Hundreds of faith leaders of diverse religions protested at the US-Mexico border in San Diego on Monday. Thirty-two of them were detained by Border Patrol officers.
The event called, "Love Knows No Borders" was a call for migrant justice, to stand with the roughly 6,000-person caravan from Central America that's now landed in Tijuana as people wait weeks, and even months, for their asylum paperwork to be processed.
Six people from churches in Boise attended the event, and a local reverend was among those arrested.
KTVB spoke with two of the people who protested at the wall: Cathedral of the Rockies senior pastor Duane Anders and Boise Unitarian Universalist reverend Sara LaWall, who say immigration is intrinsic in their faith.
They heard of about the peaceful protest and knew it was what they had to do to send hope and support. More than 300 people, many who are faith leaders of diverse religious persuasions across the country, walked a solemn two miles to Border Field State Park to show support for migrants' rights to seek refuge in America.
"It was the whole crowd of humanity present,” Anders said.
Organized by Quaker group American Friends Service Committee, Love Knows No Borders called for an end to detaining and deporting immigrants, de-militarizing border communities and protecting migrants seeking asylum in America – particularly those in the Central American migrant caravan now at the U.S-Mexico border.
"Most of us would say in our faith that immigration is part of our faith,” Anders said. “If we look at our stories immigration is just part of our story.”
Anders says he felt called and compelled to take part.
“We came together as faith leaders to say to our government: everybody has these rights, rights to immigration and rights to asylum,” he said. “We're a country of immigrants. How can we shut the doors to others who are seeking to build a new life and want to do it the right way?"
Once they marched to the border, Anders says more than a hundred demonstrators tried to push past heavily-armed border patrol agents. Those peaceful protesters were trained and willing to be arrested by border patrol.
“Our goal actually was for all the faith leaders to bring a blessing to the fence,” Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Rev. Sara LaWall said. “We just stayed there and knelt down and prayed and sang and eventually after some warnings border patrol pushed us back."
LaWall says she knew without a doubt this was the right opportunity to go; she’d been watching the situation unfold from afar and has wanted to do something regarding immigration justice for months. She was one of the 32 arrested, and was cited but not jailed.
"I was apprehensive of course and nervous but kept reminding myself of what the migrants on other side were going through,” LaWall said. “It was powerful, it was overwhelming.”
This is all occurring as President Trump fights to pay for the building of a stronger border wall.
"We need border security. The wall is a part of border security,” Trump told House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer in a tense public meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday.
In that meeting, the president said he'd shut down the government if he's unhappy with funding.
"I am proud to shut down the government for border security," he said. "Because the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down."
But the day prior, demonstrators say the message was hope.
“Did we get everybody's attention, did it change anything that day?" Anders said. "Well, even if it sent hope to a few people on other side of the border that heard ‘did you know there were hundreds of clergy and laity on the other side that risked their freedom to send a message to their government?’ I think that in itself becomes a message of hope."
The demonstration is meant to launch a national week of action, between International Human Rights Day on Monday, December 10, and International Migrants' Day on December 18.