Witness for Justice: No Human Being Is Illegal
In the third week of June, thousands of Unitarian Universalists, joined by migrant workers, community allies, and interfaith partners, lifted our voices in love as we converged on Phoenix.
Join us as we continue to shine a light on the culture of cruelty perpetrated in our name by state governments that pass anti-immigrant laws like SB 1070 that lead to racial profiling and discrimination; and by a federal government whose practices both at the border and via an increasingly for-profit system of mass detention and deportation have created a culture of fear that terrorizes entire communities, makes us all less safe, and simply does not reflect our nation’s values.
Join us in solidarity with your own local witness for justice and peace for migrants and migrant families!
Where some see “illegals,” we see human beings, brothers and sisters, parents and children, friends and neighbors. Where some call for fences, and vigilante justice, we call for an end to laws tinged in racism, for keeping families intact, for humane solutions to our broken immigration system, and compassion for those who seek a better life.
Don’t miss this national outpouring of love!
Below you will find information and resources for how you can join us in these National Days of Witness, and stand up for human rights in your own communities.
Ways to Participate in National Days of Witness
Contact the White House and Urge an End to ‘Secure Communities’
It is imperative that the White House understands that the Secure Communities mass detention and deportation initiative of the Department of Homeland Security is strongly opposed by many people in our country, and that the program is doing anything but creating a secure environment for people and families. There’s a reason why several states and municipalities have ordered police not to participate in the program. Call the White House and express your opposition! You can email or call the White House with your own message by filling out this email form or calling this phone number: (202) 456-1111.
Talking points to convey to the White House include:
- The Secure Communities program deters the reporting of crimes, encourages racial profiling, and breaks down relationships between police and immigrant communities.
- We have a moral responsibility to question programs like ‘secure communities.’ What we need are programs and policies that help keep immigrant families together rather than tearing entire communities apart and separating parents from children.
- Secure Communities is supposed to address violent crime. But data shows 75% of people deported through Secure Communities are not felons, as the federal government claims, but were arrested for misdemeanors, or even traffic violations. Furthermore, from January to June 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed 46,486 undocumented parents who claimed to have at least one child who is an American citizen.
Click here to read a report on the failed Secure Communities program.
You can email or call the White House with your own message by filling out this email form or calling this phone number: (202) 456-1111.
Embrace Opportunities for Reflection & Dialogue in Your Congregation
This is an opportunity to use the power of your congregation to stand up for the justice of migrants and their families. Consider offering a prayer on Sunday, June 24. You can also read the names of those that have died in detention.
Between October 2003 and July 2011, over 120 people have died in detention centers across the country. By taking the time to read a prayer and their names in your congregation, it will help to show that these people were more than “illegals,” they were fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters, and their families will never be the same. You can download the full list of names with their place of birth, date and location of death, and other information in PDF format here.
You can also screen the acclaimed Frontline documentary “Lost in Detention” produced by Maria Hinojosa, who will deliver this year’s Ware Lecture at General Assembly in Phoenix. Click here for details.
Additionally, take a look at these excerpts from sermons and writings on immigration.
Plan a Witness Event At a Detention Center
For those who cannot travel to Arizona, join us on in solidarity with your own local witness for justice and peace for migrants and migrant families! You can protest at a detention center near you, or in another local public space. Find a detention center near you here.
Please see our sample script for a Witness Event that everyone in your congregation can participate in. The service will take approximately 45 minutes, and includes visuals, music, and invocation or prayer, a statement of why we are gathering, testimonials, information about what we are asking for, a pledge of commitments, and chants and songs. See the full script with relevant links here.
Take some time to read about a recent Witness event from May 6 in Boston to better understand what your event may look like!
Remember, above all else, our message is love!
FIND A PARTNER NEAR YOU
There are many interfaith and immigrant rights organizations around the country that are working for justice for immigrant communities.
We recommend that congregations and others connect with a partner group to plan your witness even if you do not already have one. This ensures that you are organizing with the people most impacted by anti-immigrant laws and policies and allows you to have an authentic and diverse event, grounded in solidarity. It also provides an opportunity to create an ongoing partnership.
See http://www.uua.org/immigration/witness/partners/index.shtml for a list of interfaith and immigrant rights organizations that have affiliates across the U.S.
Speak Out Against Border Patrol Abuse of Migrants
One year ago, Carlos Reynaldo Lamadrid Guerrero was shot and killed by the U.S. Border Patrol. There still have been no answers for his senseless death. Sadly, stories like Carlos’ are all too common. Organizations continue to document human rights violations every day. Thankfully, the movement for Border Patrol accountability continues to grow. Thousands of you have signed petitions to the Obama Administration and Department of Homeland Security urging an end to the ongoing abuse of migrants in Border Patrol. Together we are making progress. But more must be done.
Please contact Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano today and tell her how important it is to give human rights advocates access to Border Patrol facilities. It is the only way to begin to change the Border Patrol’s culture of cruelty.
Together, we can create the public and political will necessary to protect the basic human rights and dignity of all migrants, beginning with advocate access into Border Patrol detention centers.
Learn How to Start a Visitation Program In Your Own Community
On July 25, 2012 at 8pm EST we will be holding an online training, “Breaking the Isolation of Immigration Detention: Starting a Visitation Program.” This webinar will be led by Grassroots Leadership, an organization that works with communities across the country to abolish for-profit prisons, jails, and detention centers and strives to reduce criminalization and incarceration. More than 34,000 people are detained in the U.S. every day, and nearly 400,000 passed through this system every year, without regard to them being recently-arrived, asylum-seekers, long-time residents, or permanent legal residents convicted of minor criminal offenses. Through this webinar training, people will learn why and how to start a visitation program with information from other successful visitation programs that have resulted in hundreds of visits to detained immigrant and asylum-seeking women in the past year. Sign up for more information about this July 25 webinar.
Sign the Petition: Stop the Suffering in Maricopa County!
The Department of Justice has sued Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio for civil rights violations, including the long-standing racial profiling of Latinos. Arpaio has run a sheriff’s office that has disregarded the Constitution, ignored sound police practices, and has retaliated against perceived critics in unlawful ways that have caused serious harm to many in Arizona.
Please join us in calling on President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to end the culture of cruelty by Plaing the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office under receivership, seeing to the closing of “Tent City,” and cutting off all ICE powers from Maricopa County.
Click here to download an action card that you can distribute in your community about the abuse in Maricopa County.
Engage in Voter Registration
Every day, people around the world die fighting for their right to vote. Let your voice be heard! Help more people to vote by helping register people to vote.
You can help us ensure a positive future for our country by increasing civic participation in your neighborhood and building political strength within our community.
Click here to learn how to connect to local voter registration efforts.