First Unitarian Church of Dallas Calls for Communities of Love at ICE Hearings
From Rev. Daniel Kanter, Senior Minister, First Unitarian Church of Dallas, TX
On Tuesday, August 9th, a contingent of Unitarian Universalists, activists, and other faith leaders met with Sheriff Lupe Valdez of Dallas County at a meeting organized by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE). Sheriff Valdez is part of a controversial national taskforce reviewing the Secure Communities program. “Secure Communities” is the latest attempt to ensnare local police into enforcing unjust immigration laws with results that harm us all: separated families, shattered trust in law enforcement, increased racial profiling, and more.
Over 100 people, including thirty Latino college students, ACLU organizers, Spanish-speaking community members, local and regional law enforcement officers, and twelve UUs from our church, came out to testify and to witness. Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Acting Deputy Director of the Homeland Security Advisory Council Mike Miron, Advisory Council Executive Director Becca Sharp, and Advisory Council members Sister Rosemary Welsh, Arturo Venegas, and Adrian Garcia heard testimonies of arrests for traffic violations that ended in deportation. Except for one police officer, all the people who spoke called for the abolishment of S-Comm. I asked the panel to listen to the passions in the room with ears that hear and eyes that see.
The statement I prepared for the hearing read:
“My name is Daniel Kanter, Senior Pastor of First Unitarian Church of Dallas. I am here to stand on the side of love with immigrant families, students, and laborers.
My religion says love is the only guide we have to bring about the kingdom of heaven which is not one which treats all fellow human beings with anything but dignity and worth. My religion says people should not be treated differently because they ‘look illegal’. And my religion says families should not be dismantled when we know a strong family is the core of any secure strong community.
We have a moral responsibility to question programs like ‘secure communities’ and see if their names are political tools to manipulate us all into treating some in ways that we would not want to be treated ourselves.
The secure communities program is designed to keep communities safe from criminals but according to ICE’s own statistics over half the people it is detaining and deporting have no criminal record or only simple misdemeanors.
The program is creating communities of fear and distrust not hope, prosperity, and pride.
What we need are programs that help immigrant families understand the path to citizenship and to find ways to help them build up our communities not programs that tear them apart.
As a person of faith, I ask you to consider the call to stand with the sojourners among us and help create the kingdom of heaven, one of mutuality not fear. Please reject Secure Communities.”
I hope you will join me and Standing on the Side of Love in doing what you can to defeat ‘Secure Communities’ in favor of communities of love.