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You’ve joined us across the country with the Fast for Families: Now tell Congress it is time to act!

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For the past five weeks, I’ve been part of the Fast for Families Across America. We’ve stopped in over 70 Congressional offices, and have been part of countless community events. At many of these stops, I was pleased to see these bright yellow shirts I’ve come to know well. To the Standing on the Side of Love community, I want to say: thank you…and our shared work is not done yet!

The Fast will end this Wednesday at the US Capitol, where I will be joined by many faith leaders, including several Unitarian Universalist clergy and leaders (some of whom will be fasting for 48 hours on the National Mall).

We’re doing our part: now we need you!

We need your voice and signature on an urgent petition to increase the pressure on Congress to enact commonsense immigration reform that ends our nation’s greatest moral crisis — our broken immigration system.

Make your voice heard right now!

Before the Fast arrives in DC, it is in Richmond, VA for four days in House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor’s district. Rev. Jeanne Pupke and members of First UU Richmond have been key voices in Cantor’s district urging for immigration reform, and are seen here at the Richmond fast tent.

Tell the House leadership that as a person of faith you want Congress to stop the suffering and to be on the right side of history. It’s time for Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor to schedule a vote on immigration reform.

Fast for Families is taking our message for immigration reform across the country and will be delivering your petition signatures on April 9 as the bus tour arrives in Washington DC.

Sign the petition now!

Although the Fast for Families bus tour will come to an end, our work is far from over. We’ll be counting on your support throughout the year, until we have ensured commonsense immigration reform that keeps families together.

Si se puede!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eliseo Medina
Fast for Families

Eliseo is a long time farmworker and labor activist. He helped start the Fast for Families and fasted for 22 days straight on the National Mall in 2013 when the Fast began.

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ACT FAST: Why I joined the Fast for Families Across America and what’s next!

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I joined the Fast for Families Across America bus tour last week, and I can honestly say it has been a life changing experience for me. That isn’t a phrase I use lightly; being able to hear first hand so many heart-wrenching stories of immigrant families has encouraged me to re-double my own efforts to help make compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform a reality this year. I’m sharing this reflection because I hope you, as a dedicated Standing on the Side of Love supporter, will also recommit and join one of our many actions alongside Immigrant Justice groups in coming days and weeks.

For one week, I rode with our partners as the bus wove through Florida, making numerous stops per day at Congressional offices, local City Halls, community centers, and houses of worship. Throughout it all, Dreamers, farmworkers, day laborers, domestic workers, church members, community activists—all aspiring citizens—showed incredible spirit and tenacity while sharing their hopes and demands for reform. I was honored to join UU leaders Rev. Robin Gray and Rev. Kathy Schmitz, along with congregants in their communities as they too welcomed the Fasters and rededicated themselves to this work.

My personal highlight from the trip was one late night traveling on the bus when most of the work for the day was finally over, sharing stories and laughs with Fast for Families leader Eliseo Medina, a long time farmworker and labor activist who worked alongside Cesar Chavez for many years. The next morning while outside a Congressional office in my own hometown of Miami, I stood a few feet away from Eliseo as he got arrested for attempting to exercise his democratic rights and deliver a letter to a Member of Congress. When Eliseo was released from custody nearly 12 hours later, with an undiminished spirit, his determination drove home for me the pressing nature of this fight. I also got to spend time with an amazing group of Florida immigrant women called the Dreamers’ Moms. These mothers are glad their children are able to access DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) but long for the day when their entire family can be kept together with assurance. I told these strong women that I would be fasting for them this coming Sunday, and while fasting doesn’t come easy for me, I know it’s nothing compared to what they go through on a daily basis.

You may have noticed an increase in our work and communications on immigration justice lately, from our call to join our UU Women’s Fast this coming Sunday on March 30, to UUA President Rev. Peter Morales asking us to join a National Day of Action on April 5 to stop deportations, to this message today. That’s because immigrant communities are steadfast in their efforts to stop deportations and get real reform this year, and so are we.

Because of the courage and commitment, I will join our companer@s on the frontlines in DC for four days, from April 5-9. These days of action will include marches to the White House to urge the President to issue an executive action to stop deportations and a Fasting Tent on the National Mall led by our sisters at We Belong Together. The Fast for Families Bus will arrive on April 9th,making its final stop in DC, and I will re-join my colleagues to demand that Congress take action this year. Before the bus arrives in DC, it will be making several more stops across the country, and I hope you will consider greeting the bus if it stops near you.

There are many ways you can get involved: check out our updated immigration resource page where you can find information about all of these upcoming actions. Whatever you are able to do will make a difference; because the time is now to Act Fast.

This will be a busy year for immigration reform. One of the best things I heard while on the bus, over and over again, were these reassuring words: We always know we can count on the “Yellow Shirts” and the “Love People” to show up and bear witness with us. Let’s continue to stand with our partners this year and beyond, until we make sure that with the power of love, we have done all we can to keep families together and recognize the human worth and dignity of all people in our country.

Si Se Puede!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer

Campaign Manager, Standing on the Side of Love

PS: Want to feel inspired? Check out some of our photos from recent immigration actions!

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Two Million is Too Many: Act on April 5th

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It has been clear for a long time that our nation’s immigration system is broken and unjust. I am proud of how Unitarian Universalists have put our faith and values into action by standing on the side of love with immigrant rights organizations and communities. Our Justice General Assembly in Phoenix in 2012 was a prominent example of our commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

But years of advocacy and activism have not resulted in immigration reform. In fact, since 2008, more than two million people have been deported from the U.S. That’s more than 1,000 people every day. And still Congress does nothing.

To address this ongoing tragedy, our partners at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) are holding a National Day of Action on April 5th for groups across the country to tell President Obama that after two million deportations, it is past time for executive action to stop the deportations. We will urge the President to grant deferred action as he did for the “Dreamers,” the children brought to this country by their parents seeking a better way of life for their families. Congressional inaction makes this executive action absolutely necessary.

Four years ago, I initiated an interfaith letter calling on the President to suspend the Immigration Custom and Enforcement Secure Communities Program that has created a devastating mass detention and deportation system in this country. I asked Maria Hinojosa, producer of the Frontline film Lost in Detention, to speak as our Justice GA Ware Lecturer. I have consistently urged administrative relief for our migrant communities, while continuing to press Congress for compassionate immigration reform. While we wait for the Congress to create a framework for immigration reform, it only makes sense to provide relief from deportations for those who would be included in an immigration reform bill.

I hope that you will respond to NDLON’s call to action. Please visit NDLON’s #Not1More website to find an April 5th action near you or to add your own action to the map. And I urge you to sign the Petition to President Obama.

On April 4th, I will be speaking at the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) Spring Conference for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We know that we are one human family. Indigenous communities on the border often say, “We didn’t cross the border, it crossed us.” They too are suffering from our broken immigration system. I will ask people at the conference to observe the April 5th National Day of Action and to sign the petition. Two million deportations is a sad milestone. Two million is too many.

Love has no borders. Love keeps families together.
Love respects the inherent worth and dignity of all people.

In faith,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reverend Peter Morales
President, Unitarian Universalist Association

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Join UU Women in a Solidarity Fast!

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Currently 51% of people migrating to the United States are women, and the overwhelming majority of them are mothers. The human face of this statistic has been broadcast nationwide in the courageous stories of young undocumented mothers who have been separated from their children and deported. Our immigrant sisters stand unafraid in calling for an immigration process that keeps all families together, safeguards the labor and civil rights of immigrant women workers, protects survivors of domestic violence and trafficking, and empowers millions of immigrant women with the language and other help they may need to contribute their skills fully.

On Sunday, March 30, we will be fasting for 24-hours to demand comprehensive immigration reform. We invite Unitarian Universalist women, including trans women, genderqueer women, and all those who stand in solidarity with immigrant families to join us. We pray our legislators will listen to the collective cry from women all across the country. We who are fasting are making the statement that addressing immigration reform is more important than eating. That sustaining our bodies means little if we are neglecting our collective soul. That the abuses taking place daily must stop. That we demand compassionate and just immigration reform and we demand it now!

Unitarian Universalists have been strong advocates and allies in la lucha (the fight) for immigration reform for many years. Our theology calls us into relationship with all those impacted by the immigration system. We are called into the messiness, into the heartbreak, and into the struggle for justice. We know there are multiple paths to Truth and many ways to journey towards the Beloved Community. We hope you will open your heart to this 24-hour fast and to this Truth: immigration reform is needed immediately, and it must be fair for women! We encourage you to join us for this act of solidarity – let us be enriched by our diversity and unity in la lucha.

Join us this Sunday, March 30 for a UU Women’s Day of Action on Immigration as we fast in solidarity with the immigrant women and families who are most harmed by our current immigration system!

In faith,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev. Marti Keller, Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev. Cathy Rion Starr, Minister of Social Justice, All Souls Church Unitarian, Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev. Wendy von Zirpolo, Parish Minister of Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead, MA

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UU Religious Professionals of Color Witness with Youth for Economic Justice

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Group of people outside MA State House in support of economic justice

Photo by Alex Kapitan

On Thursday, March 13, participants in the Finding Our Way Home retreat joined leaders of Boston Mobilization in collaboration with Youth of Massachusetts Organizing for a Reformed Economy (YMORE) and Sub/Urban Justice to witness for economic justice and call for an increase in the minimum wage.

Finding Our Way Home is an annual retreat for Unitarian Universalist religious professionals of color, hosted by the UUA through the Diversity of Ministry Initiative. This year’s event, held in Boston, was attended by nearly 80 ministers, seminarians, religious educators, directors of music, and church administrators from across North America. In addition to community building, spiritual reflection, and collegial support, the retreat includes a service project—and this year, participants partnered in solidarity with YMORE, a cross-race, cross-class, and cross-neighborhood community of youth, as they shared their stories and demanded policies grounded in equity and justice from their government.

In their invitation to Finding Our Way Home, YMORE explained:

Photo by Alex Kapitan

“As religious professionals from all over the country, your presence reminds the Massachusetts legislature that the nation is watching to see how Massachusetts acts on issues of workers’ rights. As Unitarian Universalists leaders, you remind politicians that these issues are moral ones. YMORE is an interfaith group of teens with shared values. Your presence as religious people will call us back to the truth that the power of love is the ground of all justice work.”

At a joint press conference led by the youth, social justice leaders gave moving testimonials about how minimum wage, sick time, and state policies impact their lives. UUA President Rev. Peter Morales also spoke to the gathering, thanking the youth for their leadership and reiterating his and the UUA’s commitment to addressing escalating inequality and getting the minimum wage raised on the state and federal levels (you can review and sign the joint UUA/UUSC statement).

Ellie Flammia, a YMORE member and local high school student, shared:

A lot of people think that teens hold the majority of minimum wage jobs, but in reality 88% of minimum wage jobs are held by adults. In fact, every year Republican Senators in Massachusetts propose paying teens less than the minimum wage. … We don’t want to encourage businesses to hire teens over adults. We are fighting for EVERYONE to have higher minimum wage pay.

Following the press conference, Finding Our Way Home participants shadowed YMORE representatives to meet with seven state legislators and Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Others joined together in front of the State House with signs, gaining supportive cheers and honks from people driving by.

Getting signs for the witness

Left to right: Sophie Morgan, Aisha Hauser, Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen. Photo by Audra Friend

Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, minister of the UU Congregation of Central Nassau, NY, said:

“After a terrific 101 Program on Minimum Wage led by Elizabeth Nguyen and Asha Carter, young adult staff of the Boston Mobilization, Rev. Danielle DiBona and I had the honor and privilege of being adult allies who joined the teen social justice leaders as we all walked into the Massachusetts State House to express how important we believe it is to raise the minimum wage. … I felt as if I had truly earned the title of ‘Elder’ because I did not need to do anything except to bear witness as the youth made their points about the critical issue of supporting workers of all ages by supporting the raising of the minimum wage.”

Aisha Hauser, Director of Religious Education at East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue, WA, reported:

“One of my passions as a UU religious educator is engaging youth and children in a way that empowers them as agents of change in our world. Being a part of this service project led by youth in favor of not only a raise in the minimum wage, but also against cutting benefits to those who need it most, was a privilege. While it may be cliché to say that the youth are our future, it is a fact and it is encouraging and humbling to see how many youth fully understand the stakes in our political struggles for the underprivileged in our country right now.”

Rev. Dr. Qiyamah Rahman. Photo by Amanda Thomas.

Rev. Dr. Qiyamah Rahman, minister of the UU Fellowship of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and a participant in Finding Our Way Home since the retreat’s beginning, passionately testified to the power of the service component of the gathering, saying that it was the single most powerful addition that had been made to the retreat over the years and really exemplified who UU religious professionals of color are and what they bring forward.

See coverage of the event by local ABC affiliate WCVB, and check out Boston Mobilization’s Facebook page for photos.

UUs are involved in minimum wage campaigns in many states, as well as at the federal level. Find out more, and please sign the joint UUA/UUSC statement calling for raising the minimum wage closer to a living wage, indexing the minimum wage to inflation, and significantly increasing the minimum wage for employees who receive tips.

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