Posts Tagged ‘immigrant justice’

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.

Will HRC Do Right By the South?

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Lessons from the Border

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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. 

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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