Posts Tagged ‘immigrant justice’

Faith Leaders Call on Obama to End Inhumane Immigration Enforcement

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President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC  20500

 

Dear Mr. President,

On July 31, over 100 faith leaders and immigrant rights activists were arrested in front of the White House to urge you to end the inhumane immigration enforcement policies that are destroying families and fracturing our nation. Congress’s refusal to enact immigration reform has ensured that deportations of immigrants continue at an alarming rate. Only administrative action will stop the deportations now.

As you consider executive action to protect immigrant families, we implore you to include three things:

  1. Stop deportations immediately. Every day, roughly over 1,100 people are being forced from their homes and sent back to countries of origin that many fled for fear of poverty, hunger, and violence. Deportations are not the solution to fixing the immigration system. Stop the deportations. Stop this injustice.
  2. Expand deferred action to immigrant workers and families. You can use the power of the presidency to keep families together by granting deferred action as you did for the “Dreamers,” the children brought to this country by their parents seeking a better way of life for their families.
  3. Protect unaccompanied children who have sought refuge within the United States border. Give the children who are fleeing violence in Central America due process hearings to be considered for refugee status. Detentions and deportations are not the answers. Mercy and relief for children desperate to escape gang- and drug-related violence are needed now.

The world waits to see how you will handle our broken immigration system. Will you take the first step to finding a humane solution?

As a nation of immigrants, we must stand on the side of love with immigrant families. As a religious community, we cannot ignore the moral call to help those who are suffering. And as citizens of the world, we must respect the inherent worth and dignity of all.

 

In faith,

Rev. Peter Morales
President, Unitarian Universalist Association

Rev. Geoffrey A. Black
General Minister and President, United Church of Christ

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
The United Methodist Church, Los Angeles Area

Rev. Dr. Susan T. Henry-Crowe
General Secretary, Board of Church and Society, the United Methodist Church

Rev. John L. McCullough
President and CEO, Church World Service

Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins
Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

 

This letter was sent to the White House today, providing important follow-up to support the coalition of clergy and faith leaders who took action and engaged in civil disobedience to urge deferred action for the immigrant community and refugee status for children at the border on July 31, 2014.

 

Thank you to the July 31 UU Arrestees

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We are standing on the side of love with the 31 Unitarian Universalist clergy and leaders who got arrested as part of the July 31 Pray for Relief actions in front of the White House to stop deportations.

While many of the people arrested echoed the sentiment that theirs was a small sacrifice compared to the daily struggles many immigrants face, we are grateful for their witness nonetheless!

Thank you to these brave souls.

1. Rev. Lora Brandis, UU Justice Ministry California

2. Rev. Evin Carvill Ziemer, Central East Regional Group, UUA

3. Laura Davis, Palomar UU Fellowship

4. Rev. Barnaby Feder, Champlain Valley UU Society

5. Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, UU Congregation of Phoenix

6. Rev. Fred Hammond, UU Congregation of Tuscaloosa

7. Carolyn Howe, First Parish Northborough, UU

8. Dee Idnani, UU Congregation of Fairfax, VA

9. Rev. Carie Johnsen, UU Community Church

10. Rev. Beth Johnson, Palomar UU Fellowship

11.  Rev. Susan Karlson, NYC New Sanctuary Coalition

12.  Rev. Amy Kindred, UU Fellowship of Charlotte County, FL

13.  Rev. Linda Lawrence, UU Congregation of Phoenix

14.  Yvonne Marlier, Unitarian Society of Germantown

15.  Rev. Kent Matthies, Unitarian Society of Germantown

16.  Rev. Kathleen McTigue, UU College of Social Justice

17.  Paul Mitchell, UU Justice Arizona Network

18.  Rev. Linda Olson Peebles, UU Church of Arlington and UUMA

19.  Rev. Amanda Poppei, Washington Ethical Society

20.  Rev. Jeanne Pupke, First UU, Richmond

21.  John Reed, United First Parish Church

22.  Rev. Cathy Rion Starr, Unitarian Society of Hartford

23.  Rev. Christina Sillari, First Parish, Portland, Maine

24.  Suzi Spangenberg, Seminarian, UU Fellowship of Laguna Beach

25.  Carol Stowell, UU Congregation of York

26.  Rev. Jan Taddeo,  UU Congregation of Gwinnett

27.  Rafaelina Veras, UUCY

28.  Rev. Wendy von Zirpolo, UU Church of Marblehead

29.  Laura Wagner, UU Mass Action

30.  Sandra Weir, UU Congregation of Phoenix

31.  Ross Wells, Washington Ethical Society

May We Be Love’s Defenders: Take Action for Families Today!

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“Children should not have to carry the burden of our broken immigration system.”
Bishop Minerva Carcaño, United Methodist General Council

Bishop Carcaño gets right to the point. Children, families and parents are suffering because our immigration system is badly broken. With every deportation of a parent, another child is traumatized, another family fractured and left in a swirl of grief, confusion, fear and trouble. In the last five years, over two million people have been deported with devastating consequences. Now, some elected officials want to deport the thousands of unaccompanied children arriving at our borders. That point of view is hard for us to comprehend. The children are coming here to save their lives. According to the United Nations, the majority of the children likely would qualify for international protection if they had access to attorneys. The thought of vulnerable children deported back to the violent and resource poor circumstances they fled breaks our hearts.

That is why we went to Washington, DC to participate in the “Pray for Relief : Not One More Family Separated” Action and Faith Summit on Stopping Deportations. We were there to urge President Obama to stop the deportations. Please support our action and add your name to this petition to the President. We brought our nine month old son with us to the rally because we know that we would cross a border to save his life, if we felt that were our only choice. Opponents of comprehensive immigration reform want to say this is a story about crime. We believe this is a story about love. We believe this is a story about parents, children and families who love one another so much they are willing to take incredible risks so that their families might thrive. As a queer couple, we know the fear of losing our child if something happened to one of us because we still are not seen equally in the eyes of the law. Our hearts break for the parents who have been deported away from their children. Our work for immigration justice comes from our faith that all families should know both justice and mercy and be held with love.

We saw that love in action at the Faith Summit and Not One More Deportation march. Evin was arrested in front of the White House with 111 other immigration justice activists and faith leaders from a variety of religious traditions. It was the largest ever civil disobedience at the White House for immigrant justice. Across the street, I, Melissa, and our son joined 600 supporters who sang, chanted, prayed and witnessed in support. I know that for Evin and some of the other faith leaders, the civil disobedience was a small risk. But, for the undocumented immigrants who participated, the risk of arrest was a bold one with so much more at stake. Many more undocumented people marched on Saturday under the banners of Not One More Deportation and Deferred Action for All and were joined by a Standing on the Side of Love contingent of 50 people. These banners were raised by pole climbers at Freedom Plaza in a bold action of civil disobedience.

Standing with the undocumented immigrants risking arrest moved me, Evin, to tears. Before our action, a Mexican man from Philadelphia stopped me with tears in his own eyes to say thank you. He said, “For so long we thought we were all alone.” The point of us being there was to stand with courageous immigrants caught in a broken system and take a stand to let them know they are not alone.

Carolyn Howe

It was a privilege for us to be in the company of so many passionate, faithful and courageous people last weekend. We know that there were lots of folks who were with us in spirit. An action like this is the work of so many. Carolyn Howe from First Parish Northborough in Northborough, MA was also arrested. On her shirt and hat she carried the name of each person who helped make it possible for her to be there so she could be wrapped in their energy. Each of us has a vital role to play—whether financially assisting others, spreading the news on social media, organizing meetings at home, or making coffee for those meetings. It truly takes everybody and there is a role for all, because none of us can do everything.

President Obama has signaled that he will consider taking executive action on immigration in light of congress’ failure to act by the end of this month. Please sign this petition to the President calling for Not One More Deportation. We must continue to join others in raising a moral voice in defense of children, parents, workers and families. Look for ways that you can reach out in love. Contact your congressional representatives and attend Town Halls while they are on recess to let them know what you think. Join actions at detention centers in your area. And if leaders in your community are considering offering shelter to unaccompanied immigrant children, we hope you will speak out to say they are welcome and find a way to make your welcome and support visible. Love is under attack. May we be love’s defenders.

In faith,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evin and Melissa Carvill-Ziemer

Evin is the Program Coordinator, Ohio Meadville and St. Lawrence, UUA

Melissa is the Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent

P.S. Funds are still needed for the fines that were paid to release people who participated in the civil disobedience at the White House. Help support SSL’s ongoing immigration work by donating here.

Take Action to Stop Daniel’s Deportation

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As a UU minister in southern Arizona, I often must call upon my faith and my belief in love as a powerful and positive force of change. Living in ground-zero of border militarization and anti-immigrant policies I believe we are called to help open up the hearts of policy-makers in this state and in this country to stand on the side of love and justice with all members of our community regardless of whether we have papers, speak the same language, or pray to the same god.

That is why on May 13, I joined with clergy from multiple faiths to deliver Daniel Neyoy Ruiz, his wife Karla, and son Carlos into public sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona. Daniel is set to be deported after police called the Border Patrol during a traffic stop in 2011. In an effort to keep his family together and to ensure that his 13-year-old son would grow to adulthood with his father active in his life, Daniel courageously took sanctuary with his family.

While Daniel is exemplary of the types of individuals the administration has said they do not wish to deport, we must act together to open the hearts of those capable of stopping his deportation in Washington, D.C. I urge you to join the many voices urging the administration and the Secretary of Homeland Security to stop his deportation.

No More Deaths, a social ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Tucson where I serve, has launched a campaign to support Daniel and his family. You may join the call here and help keep Daniel at home with his family and the community that they love so dearly.

As we continue to seek positive changes for the millions of other undocumented members of communities who like Daniel, too often face the fear of deportation and separation from their families and communities, I ask that you lift Daniel and his family up into the loving embrace of justice and equity.

In Faith,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev. Diane Dowgiert

Minister, UU Church of Tuscon

P.S. To read a letter from Daniel’s son Carlos to President Obama, click here.

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

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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.