Posts Tagged ‘ICE’

Continuing to Walk Until We Have Compassionate Immigration Reform

2 Comments | Share On Facebook| Continuing to Walk Until We Have Compassionate Immigration Reform Share/Save/Bookmark Aug 27, 2013
Rev. Susan Karlson gets arrested.

Post author Rev. Susan Karlson and others are arrested in an act of civil disobedience.

Each Thursday, clergy and lay people circle Federal Plaza that houses Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and immigration courts in New York City. We silently pray the Jericho Prayer and walk in solidarity with people who struggle with unjust immigration laws and fear separation from their families. Last Thursday, we continued marching to Varick Street, home of a detention center that brings immigrants in shackles, bound by their hands and feet. At the detention center, others joined us for a rally and eight of us remained in the street and got arrested in an act of civil disobedience.

My decision to act in civil disobedience outside a place that shackles human beings feels linked to all the current events happening around the country directly related to racism. We have immigration laws that criminalize undocumented people no matter how they entered the country initially. Under the current broken system, many undocumented immigrants pay taxes, but receive no benefits or representation. The court decision about the slaying of Trayvon Martin and Stand Your Ground laws deeply trouble many, but people of color live with this every day. The recent Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act abnegates the need for protections around voting rights for people of color.

I might scream about the endless stop and frisk rhetoric from politicians who say we must continue to stop young Black and Latino men. I think about all the enslaved people brought to this country against their will in shackles and now how people are now detained for long periods of time and suddenly deported in shackles to out of the country in shackles, a country they may not remember or have ties to now. It is time to remember the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

NYC Federal Plaza witness

Witnessing for immigrant justice at the Federal Plaza in New York City.

A dear immigration activist friend with the New Sanctuary Movement of NYC asked me to commit civil disobedience. Despite his tireless efforts for immigration reform, he cannot risk arrest because he would be deported. I risk nothing and, in fact, am treated with the utmost respect and dignity, in contrast to the treatment of thousands of immigrants brought to Varick Street. We so desperately need humane immigration reform with a path to citizenship. I hope that our rally and civil disobedience brought more awareness and might hasten the end of this ugly nightmare that undocumented immigrants face.

To learn more about the history and involvement of Unitarian Universalists in the New Sanctuary Movement, click here.

Rev. Susan Karlson is the new Central East Regional Group (CERG) Disaster Response Coordinator, charged with recruiting, organizing and developing partnerships to bring Unitarian Universalist volunteers to all the areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy. On September 1st, she is leaving her ministry at the Unitarian Church of Staten Island in New York where she and the congregation worked on immigration, antiracism, interfaith efforts, and Sandy recovery. Susan has been an active participant in the New Sanctuary Movement since her previous arrest three years ago for civil disobedience around comprehensive immigration reform. She also serves as secretary of the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry.

Restore Trust & Break ICE’s Hold on Our Communities

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Restore Trust & Break ICE’s Hold on Our Communities Share/Save/Bookmark Oct 05, 2012

Late Sunday night, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the California TRUST Act, a bill that would have reestablished the trust needed for community policing by prohibiting local law enforcement from holding undocumented immigrants on Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, unless the detainee was charged or convicted of a serious felony.

We at the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry Action Network, CA are deeply disappointed in his decision. His veto puts many hardworking immigrant families at continued risk of being split by deportations, and continues to erode the trust between the immigrant community and law enforcement, compromising our community safety.

We are not giving up. Together, we can create change in California and across the country. Please join the movement to restore trust and break ICE’s hold on our communities. Click here to get involved.

While we were not able to get the Governor to sign the TRUST Act, let us not forget what we have accomplished—that the conversation has changed. The unjust “Secure Communities” program has been exposed by media throughout the nation, reaching many people who previously had no idea that the “tamale lady,” the victim of domestic violence, and the worker whose boss refused to pay him are among the 80,000 deportations in California under S-Comm.

Moreover, the fact that Governor Brown waited until the final hours of the very last day to veto the bill, demonstrates that this was not an easy decision. His eyes are being opened to the issue. In the statement the Governor issued explaining the veto, he confirms that the current Secure Communities program is unjust and offers his personal commitment to work swiftly with the legislature to fix what he identifies as the flaws in this bill.

Undocumented and mixed-status families are part of our congregations and communities. This is an especially important time to hold these families in our thoughts and prayers as well as all of the advocates who have worked so hard for justice. It is profoundly hurtful and disorienting to have your family’s safety and integrity continue to be the subject of intense political debate and public vitriol.

Change is still happening. Click here to join the “Restoring Trust: Breaking ICE’s Hold on our Communities” movement today.

It is a privilege to be a part of this movement on behalf of immigrant justice and to witness social justice advocates across the country become better informed and more engaged allies and advocates.

We are making the path by walking it.

May Love be our guide.


Rev. Lindi Ramsden
Senior Minister and Executive Director
UU Legislative Ministry and Action Network, CA

The message above went out on Friday, October 5, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

Take Action to Keep Families Together

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The message below went out on Thursday, August 2, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

A family court in Missouri recently ruled that an undocumented Guatemalan woman, Encarnacion Bail Romero, “abandoned” her young son after she was picked up in an immigration raid at the poultry plant where she worked and detained for two years. Not long after being detained, the court stripped her of all legal rights as a parent and granted parental rights to a couple who ended up looking after her child. The couple even changed her son’s name. It is possible that Encarnacion may never be reunited with her son.

The recently re-introduced Help Separated Families Act would address many of the systemic barriers that Encarnacion faces by preventing parental rights from being terminated due to immigration proceedings, and by ensuring that children can be placed in the care of relatives.

Please urge your Members of Congress to support the Help Separated Families Act of 2012 and protect parents like Encarnacion.

Unfortunately, Encarnacion’s heart-wrenching story is an all-too-common byproduct of our country’s enforcement-only immigration tactics. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) rounds up and detains undocumented immigrants without thought to whether they have children who depend on them. Currently, there are over 5,000 children in foster care because their parents have been detained or removed from the country, and 15,000 more are expected to join the foster rolls, according to figures from the Applied Research Center. These children are at risk of being permanently separated from their families.

Dozens of interfaith organizations, including the Unitarian Universalist Association, have signed a letter to Congress asking them protect the sacred bond between parent and child by passing this bill.

Can you speak out too?

Please take action today to keep families together! Click here to send your message.

In faith,

meredith ga

Meredith Lukow
Program Assistant
Standing on the Side of Love

A Toolkit: How You Can Help Stop Deportations

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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.

In faith,

CR MLUC Min 4x6_7791

Rev. Craig C. Roshaven
Witness Ministries Director
Unitarian Universalist Association

Standing on the Side of Love to End “Secure Communities”

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August 2011 034On Wednesday, August 24, Rev. Dr. Linda Olson Peebles and 10 members of the UU Church of Arlington, VA, joined some 300 people to testify against the U.S. Homeland Security initiative called “Secure Communities”.

A Task Force, charged with reporting back on this policy to ICE, held hearings around the nation in the past few weeks, and this one in Northern Virginia, just across the Potomac River from DC, was the last chance for people to voice concerns. The 300 immigrants, faith leaders, worker unions, lawyers and legal rights workers were joined by two members of the Arlington County Board, Walter Tejada (who attends the UU Church of Arlington) and Board Chair Chris Zimmerman. (The County Board voted last year to “opt out” of the SCOMM program, only to be told that they had to enforce this ICE initiative which has led to massive deportations of mostly innocent people).

August 2011 043The 300 gathered for a press conference before the hearing, and heard the stories of women taken from their children, people thrown into detention without being convicted of any misdemeanor or crime, and other stories of injustice. The group then marched to the location of the hearing, with police protection, carrying banners and shouting “Hey, Obama! Don’t Deport My Mama!”
August 2011 037

Representatives of the Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ, and Jewish faith groups spoke to the Task Force. Rev. Dr. Linda Olson Peebles spoke, following some hateful xenophobic comments from a few people supporting SCOMM, and later a woman said to the UU minister, “Thank you so much for being there today, and for being the person to speak next after that guy (who attacked Latinos). I was kind of shaken up, but as soon as I heard your name as the next speaker, I said, ‘Yes!’ What a relief that was!”

Others testifying to end SCOMM included defense lawyers, Amnesty and ACLU staff persons, the “9500 Liberty” filmmakers, community workers, and immigrants who courageously risked giving first-person stories of the way the implementation of SCOMM is affecting not the criminals in their communities, but mothers, children, and families. Halfway through the two-hour hearing, some 200 of the End-Secure-Communities group walked out and continued chanting in the courtyard facing a central Arlington commercial hub.