Today a letter seeking signatures from clergy has been sent out to Mennonite Church USA credentialed leaders, to the Iowa Heads of Communion, the Minnesota Council of Churches, and Christian Churches Together. The letter is asking for a meeting with Secretary of DHS, Jeh Johnson and ICE Director Sarah Saldaña to discuss the detainment and pending deportation of Mennonite Pastor Max Villatoro. We are so pleased that the Office of the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has reached out to us and offered their support.
Pastors and other credentialed leaders can access the letter for signing at:
The letter follows:
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 for the past [ve is a respected religious leader in Iowa City. 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 by 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 ]ed 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. Respectfully,
Bring Max Back!
Central Plains Pastor Max Villatoro was deported to Honduras on Friday, March 20 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Max and his wife Gloria are the pastors of Iglesia Torre Fuerte in Iowa City. Join us in prayer that Max can be reunited with his family and congregation, and join us in offering financial support to the Villatoro family.