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Hundreds of Iowa Clergy Call for Emergency Meeting with DHS Secretary and ICE Director on Pastor Max’s Case

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Nearly 400 Leaders from the Mennonite Church USA and Christian Clergy of Various Traditions Send Letter to Administration in Support of Pastor Max and His Family

Adding to the growing coalition of voices calling for Pastor Max Villatoro’s immediate release from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, nearly 400 clergy from the Mennonite Church USA and various Christian traditions joined in today, sending a strongly worded request to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and ICE Director Sarah Saldaña for an emergency meeting on Pastor Max’s case

The letter and growing list of signers are available online.  The full text of the letter follows below:

Secretary Jeh Johnson
Department of Homeland Security

Director Sarah Saldaña
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

March 19, 2015

Dear Secretary Johnson and Director Saldaña:

The Clergy from Mennonite Church USA and Christian Clergy of many traditions request an emergency meeting or conference call with you to discuss the detainment and pending deportation of Iowa Mennonite Pastor Max Villatoro.

The Iowa faith community along with Mennonites from coast-to-coast were shocked when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained Pastor Max on March 3.  He is a long-time community member and pastor of the Iglesia Menonita Torre Fuerte which meets at First Mennonite Church of Iowa City, Iowa. He is also the father of four US citizen children.

Pastor Max was detained because of a misdemeanor OWI (operating a vehicle while intoxicated) he received when he was 24. Now in his 40s, Pastor Max has been a deeply committed Christian for the past 15 years and a respected religious leader in Iowa City for the last five. The President of the United States has publicly stated that he is committed to keeping families together.   Pastor Max is exactly the type of person who should get a second chance, not deported. There are clear factors in his case indicating that he is not a threat to national security, border security, or public safety, and should not therefore be an enforcement priority as stated in the November, 20 2014 memo from DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Further, if Pastor Max Villatoro is deported to Honduras not only will his family, church, and community be devastated, but also his life will be in danger.  Pastor Max’s cousin was murdered for speaking out against gangs. His nephew was shot and fled to the United States because of the threats to the family.

Due to the urgent nature of this case, we asked that you meet with us as soon as possible.

400 clergy from the Mennonite Church USA and various Christian traditions

Read more about Pastor Max’s case here.