Our long struggle to get comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform passed by Congress hangs in the balance over the next three weeks. Speaker John Boehner could allow a bill to come to the floor in the House for a vote. There is bi-partisan support in both chambers and polls show that 70% of registered voters want immigration reform. All that’s stopping us is the lack of action on the part of our elected officials.
Will you please join me in telling Speaker Boehner we need a vote on immigration reform and urge him to bring a bill to the House floor?
I am grateful for our religious movement and the people who have been standing on the side of love with immigrant families. My family is one of those families. In 1994, I came to the US from India on a student visa to study for the ministry. My wife and infant son joined me the following year. Despite producing the required paperwork, we were subjected to an arduous, often dehumanizing process before being granted visas. Even though we were fortunate enough to have the requisite documents, too often we have been told to leave because we did not belong here or had to prove that we were here legally. Even after becoming citizens in 2012, my family and I live with constant reminders that we are outsiders, people who don’t belong. For millions of others, the lack of those papers has led to detention, deportation, and the tearing apart of their families.
During my ministry in Florida, I met migrant farmworkers who would wake every day before 4 am and be packed into old school buses to travel to fields to pick 2.25 tons of tomatoes per day just to earn minimum wage. Some of these workers would be picked up and detained, deported without their wages, their families’ survival threatened, all because they went into town for a small break. Since I have been in the Washington, DC, area I have met courageous undocumented migrant leaders who have traveled here to advocate for their right to remain, risking arrest and deportation.
Earlier this month I was proud to witness UUA President Rev. Peter Morales demonstrate his profound commitment to immigrant justice by getting arrested on the steps of the Capitol with other prominent faith leaders and six members of Congress. He carried all our voices to Washington that day—all of us who have witnessed, organized, and formed partnerships for migrant justice through our congregations, youth groups, UU state advocacy networks, or individually in our communities.
Now, we need to come together once again to seize this historic opportunity, lending our shoulders and hands to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice.
Now is the time to urge Speaker Boehner to give us a vote!
Our hard work has brought us to this point and we can’t stop now. We need to keep reminding our elected leaders that the role of government is to protect the rights of all of the people and to preserve the common good. What sustains me through my personal experiences and my witness for justice is my Unitarian Universalist faith. It accepts me for who I am, as I am, without prejudice or preconditions. By showing hospitality of the heart and hand, my faith community helps me feel grounded and at home in this country. May it be so for all people.
Rev. Abhi Janamanchi
Rev. Abhi Janamanchi is Senior Minister at Cedar Lane UU Church in Bethesda, MD, and previously served as Senior Minister for the Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, FL, for fourteen years. His years of international and interfaith work include a former role as President of the International Association for Religious Freedom and he currently serves as UUA Ambassador to the Khasi Hills, India. Rev. Abhi lives with his wife, Lalitha, and two sons, Abhimanyu and Yashasvi, in the Washington, DC, area.
The message above went out on Thursday, October 24, 2013, to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.