(RNS) Many of the guests invited by Democrats to President Trump’s address to Congress were picked to showcase opposition to the president — and in particular what many consider his hostility to immigrants.
Some of those guests at Trump’s first address to Congress Tuesday (Feb. 28) are successful immigrants. Another is not an immigrant himself, but a defender of immigrants: Methodist pastor the Rev. Keary Kincannon.
Kincannon, who accepted the invitation of Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., publicly denounced a roundup of Latino men outside his Alexandria, Va., church three weeks ago, and other such raids against immigrants since Trump took office.
The roundup near his church included two men who had stayed overnight at the shelter at Rising Hope Mission Church, a United Methodist congregation.
In an NPR interview, Kincannon decried new directives for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents that have resulted in the detention of an increasing number of immigrants with minor infractions on their records.
“I don’t know anybody that has a problem with ICE picking up people that they know have serious felonies, violent crimes,” Kincannon said.
“But we’re hearing lots of stories of people with just minor misdemeanors or even people that have green cards with minor misdemeanors that are being picked up.”
Kincannon earlier in the week told the Washington Post that houses of worship and shelters should remain safe for desperate and vulnerable people.
“We should be helping them, not instilling fear that they could be targeted,” Kincannon said. “Sacred places should remain sacred places.”
An ICE spokeswoman told the local NBC news station in Washington, D.C. that its “sensitive location” policy was followed in the case of its action near Kincannon’s church in that the men were arrested not on church property but across the street.
The policy instructs ICE agents to avoid arrests at houses of worship, schools and medical facilities.