Posts Tagged ‘immigrant families’

I met with President Obama, and I want to share my story!

No Comments | Share On Facebook| I met with President Obama, and I want to share my story! Share/Save/Bookmark May 09, 2014

Last Friday I had the privilege of meeting with President Barack Obama.

I was invited to the White House as part of a small group of Asian American-Pacific Islander (AAPI) business, community, and religious leaders. The meeting coincided with the beginning of AAPI Heritage month, an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the contributions of AAPI people to our nation.

The President had called the meeting to discuss the importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform. He and members of the White House Senior Staff noted that the legislation that had passed the Senate last year would be the most significant legislation that the House could pass in the next few months to revitalize the economy, rejuvenate the workforce, and strengthen the solvency of the Social Security Fund.

The President was clear-cut and forthright with us. He said, “Immigration reform is my highest priority”. He noted that the political landscape around immigration had significantly shifted in the last few weeks. Several Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), had come out publicly in favor of immigration reform and there being potential Republican votes in the House on individual immigration reform bills. The President sought our help for what he described as a “two month sprint” to pass immigration reform in the House of Representatives.

Asian American-Pacific Islander business, community, and religious leaders gather at the White House

We also heard from the President about providing administrative relief from the ongoing impact of detention and deportation that are tearing families apart. His staff shared that a review of immigration enforcement policies was underway in the Department of Homeland Security.

When I got a turn to speak, I thanked the President for his strong commitment to immigration reform and said we’re ready. I shared that Unitarian Universalists have been working with other progressive, interfaith, and immigrant justice partners for many years for comprehensive immigration reform; that Standing on the Side of Love’s “have a heart” and “keeping families together” messages have been very effective in mobilizing people to call or write to their representatives in Congress; and that we continue to be deeply committed to working to put pressure on House Republican members to support comprehensive immigration reform. I also shared that families need relief now and that we are supporting their request for executive action.

I came away from the meeting deeply moved by the President’s strong and genuine commitment to fixing the broken immigration system through legislative action in the next couple of months. And I was inspired by the group’s enthusiasm to work with the President and his senior staff to help make it happen.

So, what can we do?

We can work in local communities to reach out to members of the Asian American, Pacific Islander, Latino/a, Arab American, African, East European communities and allies who have a stake in fixing the broken immigration system. We could make in-district advocacy visits and calls to their House representatives and put pressure on them to support HR 15.

Visit the SSL Immigration Justice resource page to get more info and find out how to take action now!

If we do these things, and do them well, we have a really good chance of not only winning on immigration reform, but also energizing immigrant communities to continue working together on issues of mutual concern regardless of what happens in Congress this summer.

Our current immigration system, instead of welcoming the stranger, leaves families living in fear of deportation, prevents young people from achieving their dreams, and obstructs immigrants from sharing their gifts and improving the economy.

As religious people who believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, we are called to change this. We are being called to work together with other faith, immigrant, and community partners to encourage our lawmakers to take action. We have a historic opportunity to help create a pathway to belonging and hope for 11 million immigrant brothers and sisters.

I fervently hope you will join me in making it a reality.

In faith,









Rev. Abhi Janamanchi

Senior Minister, Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church

P.S. Use these hashtags on social media to continue to raise awareness with your friends and family, and encourage them to contact Congress to #DemandAVote because the #TimeIsNow to #PassCIR.

Lessons from the Border

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Lessons from the Border Share/Save/Bookmark Apr 29, 2014

Standing on the Side of Love is thrilled to announce  our upcoming collaboration with the UU College of Social Justice. This fall we will join them on a delegation to witness and call attention to the human rights violations taking place on the US-Mexico border. We will meet with civil society and religious leaders on both sides. And we will continue to call for immediate action to stop deportations and for comprehensive immigration reform. Click here to learn more about their witness trips including the Mississippi Civil Rights Journey this summer. We’re pleased to re-post this reflection from UUCSJ’s Director, Rev. Kathleen McTigue. 


The long morning walk in the desert that stretches along the Arizona-Mexico border was eye-opening and heartbreaking. I was there a few weeks ago with a group of seminary students on our program with BorderLinks called “Theology and Migration.” We hoped to better understand the reality of these borderlands between countries and the many entwined justice issues that lead so many people to literally risk their lives — in the simple, essential search for work.

We walked through a stunningly beautiful landscape, filled with spring birdsong and blossoms, the horizon formed by sharp desert mountains. But the sun, harsh terrain, and lack of water made it a profoundly dangerous place to walk, even in broad daylight with sturdy shoes. We were warned to watch out for the cholla cactuses and even so, several of us got them caught in our shoes and clothing; they pierce easily and are very painful. The migrants who try to cross this desert do it at night, in cheap shoes that can fall apart in a matter of hours. For them, stepping on a cholla — or having the soles come off their shoes — can mean the end of their lives.

We learned that in this area over the past ten years, the remains of over 3,000 people have been found. Three thousand human beings in ten years! And the desert is a big place: those are just the bodies that have been found. Volunteers with groups like Samaritans and No More Deaths mark the places where people have died with simple white crosses of wood or pipe, with the word desconocido — “unknown person” — and the year they were found. In an effort to keep others from dying, they go out along these migrant trails every day, carrying gallons of water and the willingness to bring those they find into town to a hospital — an act that risks a felony charge under current law.

We spent a full week in Arizona and Mexico, hearing stories from migrants, clergy, volunteers of many stripes, and immigration officials. We sat in on court hearings as migrants in shackles were sentenced to many months in prison because they were caught for a second or third time crossing the border. We prayed at the border wall, a towering steel structure surrounded by stadium lights, mounted cameras, and armed guards. We saw first hand the degree to which an issue of civil law has been thoroughly militarized: our borders are like a war zone.

Now I am back home in Boston, more determined than ever to add my own voice to the demand for immigration reform. I urge you to consider joining us in the coming year on one of these journeys to the borderor contact us about scheduling a group from your congregation for this program. You will be moved, inspired and empowered — because no matter where we live, immigration justice calls us to action.

In faith,









The Rev. Kathleen McTigue

Director, UU College of Social Justice

Southern California Comes out for UU Women’s Day of Action for Immigration

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On March 30 women from several Unitarian Universalist congregations, including the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fullerton, actively participated in the UU Women’s Day of Action for Immigration by holding a vigil and 24 hour fast in Brea in front of Congressman Ed Royce’s office.  During the vigil, with support from Orange County Congregation Community Organization (OCCCO), the women collected 90 signed letters asking Mr. Royce to use his influence in the House of Representatives for passage of compassionate immigration reform that 1.) values the human rights of immigrants, especially that families not be torn apart, 2.) gives Dreamers (young people, who through no choice of their own, were brought to the U.S.) the chance to pursue higher education and careers, and 3.) to offer a humane pathway to citizenship.  Our country was founded on welcoming immigrants and providing opportunity for those leaving adverse situations, a tradition that should be honored.

Debbie Langenbacher (UUCF), Barbara Nelson (UUCF), Jan Meslin (Tapestry), Lesley Mahaffey (UUCF), Doris Dressler-Clark (UUCF) front row: Barbara Keller (UUCF), Barbara Moore (Canoga Park UU), Julie Thompson (UUCF), Katie Brazer (OCCCO)

Vigil activities included oral readings from published immigration research not often presented in mainstream media, music and singing of traditional social justice songs, and engagement of the public in discussion on compassionate immigration reform.  Vigil and fast participants included a wide age range of women who are citizens and not People of Color, highlighting that immigration reform is not only an issue for Latinos, Asians, and other groups, but it is an issue that affects us all.  The message is that a system that breaks apart families is itself broken, and that the inhospitality and cruelty shown to immigrants today weakens our nation’s soul.  People of faith are called upon to stand with the vulnerable and oppressed, and to treat our neighbors as we would like to be treated.  Our current immigration system disproportionately affects vulnerable women and children, burdening our foster care system (when parents are deported) and threatens the promising futures of students who have come to the US as children and consider this country to be their home.

Monica Curca (OCCCO), Debbie Langenbacher (UUCF), Doris Dressler-Clark (UUCF), Barbara Nelson (UUCF), Jan Meslin (Tapestry), Lesley Mahaffey (UUCF), Julie Thompson (UUCF), Christina Garner (UUCF) front/ seated: Julie Matsumoto (OCCCO), Barbara Moore (Canoga Park UU), REv. Kent Doss (Tapestry), Katie Brazer (OCCCO)

At the conclusion of the fast and vigil, the group delivered the signed letters and photographs of the event to the staff in Mr. Royce’s office.  Although his official scheduler was contacted many times (by email, phone, and in person) during the month before this event, in order to schedule a meeting with Mr. Royce or his designee for March 31st, no response was received from his office. The time is now to continue to push elected officials for the passage of compassionate immigration reform.

In faith,

Debbie Langenbacher
Social Action co-chair
UU Congregation of Fullerton


Immigration Advocates Plot a Resurrection

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Immigration Advocates Plot a Resurrection Share/Save/Bookmark Apr 11, 2014