(Photo via facebook.com/New.Sanctuary.Movement.of.Philadelphia)
Faith-based advocacy organization New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia (NSM) is under fire for its executive director’s alleged negligence in introducing an employee with precarious immigration status to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, as well as for the firing of staffers who criticized the director.
Three former employees — Jazmín Delgado, a former accompaniment coordinator, and Sheila Quintana and Cynthia Oka, both former community organizers — said they were fired last week by the org’s board of directors in, as they wrote in a public letter, “blatant retaliation” for calling for NSM cofounder and Executive Director Peter Pedemonti to be removed from his position.
According to the Delgado, Quintana and Oka, Pedemonti prompted one of the them to speak with an ICE agent during a February protest, despite knowing about the individual’s legal status.
“We repeat that at no point was the staff member asked for consent to engage directly with an ICE executive, much less have their name volunteered to them, and we believe the Executive Director’s failure to minimize exposure of immigrant staff to the agency perpetrating harm against our communities is unconscionable,” they wrote in an open letter.
Philly.com interviewed NSM spokesperson and Assistant Director Blanca Pacheco about the situation, and she defended Pedemonti.
“He has been an effective leader, who has actually used his privilege to bring [forward] the voices of immigrant leadership,” she told reporter Jeff Gammage. “He made an unfortunate mistake once in his 10 years. … We acknowledge the need to take serious measures to make sure we prevent that in the future.”
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On the morning of March 19, a post was published on NSM’s Facebook page in both English and Spanish asking readers to pray for the organization:
“Please pray for us, give us the bennefit of the doubt and keep us in your prayers, pray with the deppest faith you have ever done. Pray for wisdom, healing, reconciliation and for acceptance of everyone’s truths. This is a request by Blanca Pacheco the immigrant part in leadership” [sic].
Most comments under the post were supportive, though Facebook user Shawn Hyska posted a screenshot of an earlier version of the post which included the request that readers “dont ask questions” [sic].-30-
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