U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D) invited the Rev. Dr. Keary Kincannon of Rising Hope Mission Church to be his guest for President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28.
Warner is one of several politicians who have spoken out against what several witnesses described as a stakeout and round-up of Latino men exiting the Rising Hope hypothermia shelter on the morning of Feb. 8.
ICE has said two men were arrested in a parking lot across the street from the church, but would not confirm other elements of the witnesses’ account — that Latino men from the shelter were lined up against a wall for questioning and fingerprinting, and six or seven of them were put into handcuffs, loaded into vans and driven away.
Warner said he is concerned about the fear and uncertainty that’s been caused by this incident.
“Since the Administration has not been forthcoming or transparent about how and why ICE conducted this roundup, and what criteria are being used to prioritize these enforcement actions,” Warner said in a statement, “I’m taking this opportunity to send a message to the President: These actions diminish the immigrant community’s trust and cooperation with law enforcement, and they hurt Virginia’s families, neighborhoods and communities.”
Gov. Terry McAuliffe also sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Gen. John Kelly, demanding answers clarifying what took place the morning of Feb. 8.
McAuliffe spokesman Sam Coleman said the Governor and Gen. Kelly met on Sunday Feb. 26 to address the letter.
Coleman said Kelly assured McAuliffe that ICE is “only targeting illegal aliens involved in criminal enterprise,” and that ICE officers would not be performing random pickups.
McAuliffe took Kelly at his word; Coleman said the Governor was satisfied with the responses.
“That doesn’t mean the Governor will stop being vigilant on this question,” said Coleman.
Kincannon hasn’t stopped pursuing the issue either.
In attempt to get more information about the Feb. 8 incident, Kincannon and other religious leaders held a prayer vigil on Feb. 17 at the ICE field office in Fairfax. They tried to speak with ICE officials about the men allegedly detained in the vans but were turned away.
“Rising Hope is committed to ministering in love to the needs of everyone, especially those living in poverty and on the margins of society,” Kincannon said in a statement with the Warner announcement. “Houses of worship and shelters are both places where the vulnerable come for sanctuary — to get out of the cold, or to get assistance because they are in a desperate situation. We should be helping them, not instilling fear that they could be targeted. Sacred places should remain sacred places.”
Another prayer vigil, and service of solidarity for immigrants and homeless community members, is scheduled for Saturday, March 4 at Rising Hope Mission Church, located at 8220 Russell Road in Alexandria. Music begins at 1:30 p.m., with the service lasting from 2-3 p.m.