The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Tuesday, November 22, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
I am excited to share with you a new way to help you stand on the side of love with immigrant families. The Interfaith Immigration Coalition, a national partnership of faith-based organizations working for immigration reform and other fair and humane immigration policies, has assembled a page of resources including an Advocacy Toolkit that will help equip interfaith teams to change how migrant families are treated all across the country. The Toolkit was developed in collaboration with the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON), Church World Service, and other members of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC), and is available now on the IIC website. The Unitarian Universalist Association is one of 32 organizations, including Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and many mainline Christian denominations, that are members of the IIC.
The Toolkit equips you with resources to organize interfaith teams to call on elected and appointed officials in your community. The purpose of these calls is to change your community’s policy on when detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are honored by local officials.
You have heard a lot about the so-called Secure Communities program. The stated purpose of this program is to identify, detain, and deport undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes. Tragically, thousands of people who have not committed serious crimes have been detained and deported under this program.
According to ICE, their officers make immigration enforcement decisions “only after an individual is arrested for a criminal violation of state law, separate and apart from any violations of immigration law.” But thousands of people who haven’t violated state law have been detained in local jails at ICE’s request and then deported. Detainer requests from ICE should not be honored for minor infractions and immigration violations.
Cook County, Illinois, Santa Clara County, California, and Washington, D.C., have decided to not honor all detainer requests. These communities have made the decision to not honor “detainer requests” unless the person in question has been convicted of a violent or serious state crime. We believe that hundreds of other counties, cities, and perhaps even states can be inspired to follow their lead. We believe that interfaith teams can help provide the information and inspiration needed.
The Toolkit provides you with resources to organize your community and ask your local leaders to change their policy on detainer requests. In addition to the Toolkit, we will be offering webinars to help leaders like you organize and conduct calls on local officials. If you are interested in a webinar you can sign up on the IIC website and be notified when they are scheduled.
Please download the Toolkit at the link below today and join in this major new interfaith initiative to change how migrant families are treated in our communities:
The Toolkit was developed under the auspices of the Steering Committee of the IIC, a 32 member interfaith coalition. Accompanying the Toolkit is a national map that will identify where interfaith teams have formed or are in the process of forming. You can put your team on the map by filling out the online form next to the map.
If you have any questions about the Toolkit, please contact your faith community’s regional or national immigration advocacy leaders. You are also welcome to contact me.
Rev. Craig C. Roshaven
Witness Ministries Director
Unitarian Universalist Association
Post by Tim Brennan, treasurer of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), and Glenn C. Farley, co-chair of the UUA Committee on Socially Responsible Investing.
In each of the past five years, the Unitarian Universalist Association has filed a shareholder resolution asking Walmart to add Gender Identity or Expression to its non-discrimination policy. Last week we were notified by Walmart’s Office of Diversity that they were adopting this policy and were disseminating it throughout their network of stores and distribution centers. This is a big step towards justice for Walmart employees and perhaps even more importantly, an example to other companies. Walmart is currently the largest company in the Fortune 500 and the largest employer in the nation and, for that matter, the world. So how Walmart operates can profoundly affect corporate policies and practices worldwide, for better or for worse.
Federal law does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression, and state laws vary widely. Therefore, protections by employers are extremely important. While more companies each year add gender identity or expression as a protected class, most companies are still lagging. According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2010 69% of the Fortune 100 and 46% of the Fortune 500 had non-discrimination policies that include gender identity or expression. This is up from 11% and 5% respectively in 2003. Fully 39% of the Fortune 500 offer transgender-inclusive health insurance benefits, up from 1% in 2004. We hope that the Walmart example will spur additional companies to become more inclusive.
Other companies have changed as well. The UUA’s resolutions asking for non-discrimination polices on gender identity or expression resulted in policy change at Lowes, Home Depot, Travelers Insurance, and Dr Pepper Snapple Group. Verizon, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips have so far refused, but our campaign continues.
This is one small, but significant step for Walmart. Yet the company still has a long way to go to improve its treatment of employees. Just recently it was announced that the company’s health plan would become more expensive and less widely available. Advocates both within and outside of the company must continue to push for improvement.
The UUA’s shareholder advocacy program is just one expression of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign – our vision is of a world in which no one is dehumanized through acts of exclusion, oppression, or violence because of their identities.
We know that lasting change only happens in coalition and collaboration. In our broad shareholder advocacy work towards inclusion, anti-oppression and non-violence, we will continue to do our part to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice.
On November 20, we encourage you to stand on the side of love as we observe the International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), honoring and remembering those murdered through hate and ignorance.More >
Yesterday afternoon advocacy organization representatives and congressional staffers gathered in a small room in the Canon House Office Building for a congressional briefing on No More Deaths’ “Culture of Cruelty” report. As we have reported previously (here and here), No More Deaths conducted interviews with nearly 13,000 migrants and documented 30,000 incidents of abuse and mistreatment by the U.S. Border Patrol in short-term detention over the course of three years. At the briefing, Danielle Alvarado from No More Deaths, Jennifer Podkul of the Women’s Refugee Commission, and Tania Chozet from the ACLU of New Mexico’s Regional Center for Border Rights each spoke about their experiences working with migrants near the border and their frustration surrounding the Border Patrol’s flat out denial of the report’s findings.
While the report presents a multitude of alarming statistics about the situation on our southwestern border (for example: “out of 433 incidents in which emergency medical treatment or medication were needed, only 59 (14%) received it before being deported – the other 86% were deported without receiving needed medical care”), yesterday’s briefing focused on the actions that members of Congress can take to alleviate the situation.
Despite the report’s disturbing findings, the Border Patrol has been unwilling to meet with No More Deaths locally. This is not an isolated incident–Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has a reputation for being unresponsive to both civil society and congressional information requests. The only existing oversight mechanism–the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties (CRCL)–is understaffed, does not have the authority to issue penalties or make binding recommendations, and is not independent enough to truly hold the agency accountable. Consequently, no one is asking questions about questionable Border Patrol policies.
In contrast, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has introduced access policies to allow advocacy groups to visit their detention facilities and conduct independent monitoring. This program allows ICE to benefit from the expertise and advice of the advocacy community as well as fosters dialogue about ICE policies. This model could provide similar accountability for Border Patrol policies and facilities.
The panelists emphasized that they are not asking that the laws go unenforced, just that they be carried out in a humane way. This kind of abuse and mistreatment is inexcusable, particularly in the United States of America. Moreover, though these policies are conducted under the guise of national security, human rights abuses do not make us safer. Congress can do a number of things to hold the Border Patrol accountable for their actions including adding oversight and reporting conditions in budget bills and calling for oversight hearings. Our members of Congress need to start asking the tough questions and requiring the executive agencies to take responsibility for the abuses occurring on their watch.
Want to do something about Border Patrol abuse? Sign our petition. Call the White House and ask the administration to launch an investigation. Contact your members of Congress and ask them to call for an oversight hearing. Make your voice heard!More >
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Wednesday, November 16, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
You have heard a lot about the Cardenas family in Denver this past year. Through Raul Cardenas, you witnessed just one example of what ‘undocumented’ looks like. Working with the Cardenas family and the Immigration Justice Task Force and leadership at First Universalist Church of Denver, the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign was able to lift up Raul and Judy’s struggle to keep their family intact, and prevent a father from being torn from his home, wife, and children.
Thousands of you signed petitions and made phone calls to help prevent Raul’s deportation. A robust community of clergy and congregants stood side-by-side with the family at Raul’s April deportation hearing. That day, a judge offered “half good news,” as Judy called it, with a continuance of Raul’s case until November. This week, Raul again had his day in court.
I am thrilled to report some wonderful news. Judy and Raul have informed us that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have agreed to a motion to administratively close Raul’s deportation. According to Raul and Judy’s attorney, this is a battle won. Raul’s case will be indefinitely removed from the docket and not prosecuted.
“This a victory for our many letters and requests for ‘prosecutorial discretion,’” Judy said. “We are, indeed, a blessed community and fortunate to be connected with loving support.”
Today the Cardenas family will rest easy with the knowledge that they can remain together, surrounded by the love and support of a community that extends from Maine to California, and Washington to Florida. This community includes people like you, who cared enough to learn about this family and advocate for keeping them together.
Unfortunately, Raul and Judy’s problems are not over. Raul is not eligible for any change of legal status or work permit without a change in the law, or further administrative action.
However, the tide is turning with your help: In August Obama announced an initiative with Sec. Napolitano of Department of Homeland Security (and the Department of Justice) to focus immigration enforcement on people with criminal records. This renewed push for common sense “prosecutorial discretion” is designed to review and clear out “low-priority cases” like Raul’s from 300,000 backlogged deportation proceedings.
Until a humane, comprehensive immigration reform bill is passed we can’t stop. Prosecutorial discretion can help many individuals, however it is only a temporary solution. We must remember that the Obama Administration has deported an all-time record 1 million immigrants since 2009, and that thousands of U.S. citizen children have been taken from their parents and placed in foster care as a result of U.S. deportations.*
Make no mistake: those of us seeking justice for immigrants and their families are making progress — one family at a time, one defeated anti-immigrant law at a time. With each email to our senators, letter to the editor of our newspapers, and commitment to stay educated, speak out, and remain engaged in the struggle for a more just society, we move forward.
On behalf of Judy and Raul and their children, I thank you for your help in keeping this family together, and for standing on the side of love.
Standing on the Side of Love
P.S. Let’s keep the momentum going! Sign up for our upcoming Dec. 7 webinar, “Deepening Congregational Involvement with Standing on the Side of Love.”
*Reuters reports, “about 1.06 million deported immigrants as of September 12, 2011.” link: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/20/us-obama-immigration-idUSTRE78J05720110920More >
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Tuesday, November 15, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
I can’t thank you enough. At the end of September, my organization, No More Deaths, released “Culture of Cruelty,” a report that painstakingly details abuses of migrants by the U.S. Border Patrol. After interviewing 13,000 people and documenting 30,000 incidents of abuse, we hoped that people of conscience would take a stand. Thousands of you signed a petition to President Obama, urging him to intervene against systemic abuse perpetrated by the nation’s largest federal enforcement agency. You also wrote letters to the editor to your local papers and made phone calls to Border Patrol.
As a result of your advocacy, No More Deaths got the chance to speak directly with the Administration yesterday. Our delegation met with White House advisors to show them the extent of the abuse, and the Border Patrol leadership’s alarming inability to control their agents. We shared our stories, and we gave the White House a simple message: You can end this now.
And we’re not stopping there. Today we are on Capitol Hill, educating Congress about the disturbing daily reality along the border. We will be calling for independent oversight of the Department of Homeland Security and an end to the increases in border and immigration enforcement that tear our families apart. Before we return to Arizona we’ll meet with international human rights organizations, national immigrant and border advocates, and key partners in the fight for justice and dignity for all.
In just a few hours we will meet with Customs and Border Protection. They’re hoping this will all go away. You helped ensure that the human rights abuses outlined in our report won’t be forgotten.
As exciting as all this is, the hard truth is that nothing has changed – yet. Now that we have the attention of the White House and Border Patrol, it’s crucial for you to weigh in again and let the Administration know that meetings aren’t enough – it’s time for direct, decisive action.
Please call the White House today and help us deliver three key messages:
(1) Thank you for meeting with No More Deaths and immigrant rights groups and sending a message that you are concerned about Border Patrol abuse.
(2) Please urge the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the widespread abuse being perpetrated by Border Patrol.
(3) The Department of Homeland Security cannot monitor itself. Please establish an independent oversight mechanism outside of DHS to hold Border Patrol agents accountable.
Friends, Border Patrol abuses reach far beyond Arizona and affect us all. When we allow anyone to be mistreated, we send the message that discrimination and cruelty are acceptable. These abuses fly in the face of justice, accountability and what’s morally right.
On behalf of No More Deaths, I offer many thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Association Funding Program and the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign for supporting the work of No More Deaths, and this report. And I thank you for your commitment to a world where all people are treated with basic dignity and respect.
Author, “Culture of Cruelty”