In a major step towards establishing trust between local law enforcement and immigrants, and with the support of Bishop Weisenberger and local law enforcement, Pima County Interfaith officially launched the first printing of parish identification cards in Tucson. Participating law enforcement, including Sheriff Chris Nanos of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and Assistant Chief Diana Duffy of the Tucson Police Department, reassured PCI that they could be trusted to accept the IDs. With this in mind, they encouraged parish ID holders to report when they are victimized or witnesses of crimes.
Bishop Edward Weisenberger of the Catholic Diocese of Tucson supported the strategy while Monsignor Raúl Trevizo spearheaded the action at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. While over 300 people attended orientations to receive IDs over the last few months, leaders from St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church limited the issuance of parish IDs to 60 for this inaugural event. Leaders are scheduling parish ID events in other local parishes.
The parish ID strategy emerged out of recognition that many undocumented immigrants were afraid to go out into the community for fear of encountering federal immigration officials or local law enforcement. Building on the experience of sister organizations in Texas, PCI created a vehicle where an individual’s membership in a given congregation can be demonstrated -- reinforcing feelings of belonging and strengthening relationships between immigrants and supportive institutions.
Other parishes involved in this strategy include St. Augustine Cathedral, Our Lady Queen of All Saints, Our Lady of Fatima, St, Pius X, Saint Monica's, Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Joseph, Sacred Heart, St. Cyril, Santa Cruz, and St. Margaret. Printing was co-sponsored by the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona for the purchase of hardware and supplies.
Note: This article has been cross-posted with permission from the West-Southwest IAF website.