Blog post courtesy of Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward, Youth and Young Adult Program Coordinator, Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock
On Thursday, Dec. 9th, Unitarian Universalist Standing on the Side of Love activists joined an extensive coalition of immigration advocacy groups, politicians and other supporters, rallying in the wind and cold in front of New York Governor David Paterson’s Manhattan office. The coalition called on the Governor, now in his final month in office, to rescind New York’s agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to bring the Secure Communities Program (S-Comm) to New York State.
Manisha Vaze of Families for Freedom, a member of the New York State Working Group to Stop Deportation, explained, “We cannot let our state’s scarce resources fund a program that erodes trust with the police, encourages racial profiling, and funnels our immigrants into an unjust deportation system.”
The broad and visible Standing on the Side of Love presence included leaders from the Community Church (UU) of New York, NY; the UU Congregation of the Palisades in Englewood, NJ; the UU Fellowship of Northern Westchester in Mount Kisko, NY; the UU Congregation of Shelter Rock in Manhasset, NY; the Unitarian Church of Staten Island, NY; the Unitarian Church of Summit, NJ; and the UU Congregation of Queens, NY, including its new immigration initiative, the UU Justice Ministry.
UU ministers Rev. Anthony Johnson, the Rev. Susan Karlson, and the Rev. Dr. Michael Tino were among the multi-religious group of clergy supporters. The Rev. Bruce Southworth, Senior Minister of the Community Church of New York, was asked by the coalition to speak for the faith community.
“Our immigration laws and policies, and too many of the proposals for reform, are in so many ways short-sighted, racist, fear-based, and belittling of our nation’s values and ideals,” he told the crowd. “We seek due process and respectful treatment for all. As one human family, we seek to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. Governor Paterson, we ask you to join us this day in standing on the side of love and justice.”
Watch the video to hear more of his comments.
Rev. Southworth’s Community Church has been a member of the New Sanctuary Movement since 2008. In addition to advocating for immigrant rights and immigration reform, they have provided assistance to a Sengalese mother of six citizen children who is fighting deportation.
Following the rally, Rev. Southworth joined a delegation to deliver a letter directly to Gov. Paterson’s staff. Shortly after, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, presiding over NDLON v. ICE, heard arguments in a request for an emergency injunction, which would order ICE to disclose documents on how localities can opt out of the S-Comm.
The Rev. Michael Tino, minister of the UU Fellowship of Northern Westchester in Mount Kisko, NY said, “Enlisting local and state law enforcement in federal immigration enforcement creates an atmosphere of mistrust in which immigrants who are victims of crimes are afraid to report them. People of all political persuasions should oppose policies that make certain people easy prey for violent criminals. Standing on the side of love to me means working together for a future in which all people are free from violence and discrimination.”
We need you to join us in calling on Gov. Paterson to rescind New York’s agreement to participate in the Secure Communities Program during this, his final month in office. The Governor has called the current immigration system inhumane and has extended pardons to dozens of immigrants caught up in unjust deportation proceedings. S-Comm undermines all that he has done. The time to act is now.
Please join us in Standing on the Side of Love and sign and circulate the petition here at