UUA Immigration News
October 2012: On the Road from Phoenix—Updates & Resources!
As this election season focuses on issues important to our communities, we are continuing to organize for justice to build Beloved Community. Since Justice GA we have heard from UUs around the country who are organizing witness and visitation at detention centers in their communities and joining the Restoring Trust—Breaking ICE’s Hold on our Communities campaign.
This month’s issue of Immigration-News includes a family campaign for writing letters to Congress, a best practice report from a UUA Board member on detention center witness, information on how to join the Restoring Trust campaign, an opportunity to have a National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) organizer or one of their partners speak at your congregational, cluster, district or regional event, and information on the UUA-UUSC College of Social Justice border tour service learning trips. Lastly, we’re thrilled to share news about the publication of a new book on immigration justice and activism from Annette Marquis, a new member of the Multicultural Growth & Witness staff group.
A Wish for the Holidays: This fall, the UUA and Standing on the Side of Love are participating in "A Wish for the Holidays", the second annual children’s letter writing campaign to ask Congress keep all of our families and communities together. Between now and the end of November, 20,000 children will take part in "A Wish for the Holidays" by writing letters expressing one shared wish: end deportations so that all families and communities can stay together. We invite your congregation to participate in this project and use it as an opportunity to foster multigenerational involvement in your social justice work. At www.WeBelongTogether.org/wish, you’ll find age-appropriate activities to spark letter-writing, background information to help adults explain these issues to children, and more. This project is flexible--your congregation can take part in religious education classes, during coffee hour, or at special events like retreats and overnights.
Best Practice: UU Congregations Join Interfaith Detention Center Vigil. Linda Laskowski, UUA Board Representative for Pacific Central District reports: "On Saturday, October 6, three northern California UU congregations -- UU Church of Berkeley, Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, and the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists-- joined a monthly interfaith immigration vigil at the Contra Costa County Detention Center, one of the largest centers for holding undocumented immigrants in Northern California.
One of the speakers came on behalf of domestic workers, and took special note of the bright gold shirts worn by 15-20 of us in the crowd. She had been part of the Undocubus for Justice Tour organized by NDLON from Arizona to North Carolina that was protesting the treatment of undocumented migrants. She said, at every stop, the riders were welcomed by many people wearing these shirts, who opened their hearts and homes to the people on the bus. She thanked us for "estar siempre ahí para nosotros" (always being there for us). (See Linda's blog post on this witness and why it is so important to have a SSL shirt.)
UU Church of Berkeley and Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church have formed a partnership and are meeting after the vigil each month to share information and plan activities. Our joint participation with local partners was instrumental in changing the direction of Contra Costa County from using additional state funds to build more prisons to more emphasis on reducing the need for them, and we are currently working with these partners to help "Dreamers" apply for deferred action (DACA) status. We have been reaching out as a coordinated UU effort to various local partners, and are being invited in to many planning sessions."
See here for more about visitation programs. See our list of partners for coordinating interfaith vigils.
Restoring Trust—Resisting ICE Secure Communities Program. Undocumented and mixed-status families are part of our congregations and communities. It is profoundly hurtful and disorienting to have your family’s safety and integrity continue to be the subject of intense political debate and public vitriol. More than ever, it is crucial we organize to resist ICE’s so-called ‘Secure Communities’ Program. Learn more online on how we can protect thousands of immigrant families, uphold constitutional due process protections, and restore public trust between local police and the immigrant community and sign up to join the campaign. You will be invited to join phone conferences and webinars and receive materials that will connect you with this national movement and provide resources for your local efforts.
We want to recognize the extraordinary efforts of the UU Legislative Ministry and Action Network of CA and their partners at NDLON for their advocacy and organizing to get the Trust Act passed. See Rev. Lindi Ramsden, Senior Minister and Executive Director of UU Legislative Ministry and Action Network, CA’s blog post about that effort and their plans for moving forward. Note: We also just received word from UU Mass Action, who attended a training yesterday sponsored by NDLON and their local affiliate Centro Presente, to organize a Trust Act in MA.
Mark your calendars! In support of the Restoring Trust Campaign, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) has created a campaign they are calling Break Bread Together. It’s proposing that congregations of all faiths and local migrant rights organizations gather for a shared meal and break bread together. Its purpose is for neighbors to meet neighbors and to consider how they might work together to change unfair immigration policies and practices. The Campaign will launch February 15, 2013. Details to come.
Road from Phoenix: One of our main partners at Justice GA, the National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON) is interested in continuing our efforts together and participating in congregational, cluster, district, and regional meetings with UU congregations. If you are planning an event and would like to bring in a speaker/organizer from NDLON or one of their affiliates or partners, please contact Susan Leslie, UUA Congregational Advocacy & Witness Director at email@example.com.
View the Justice GA workshop we held with NDLON and leaders from three UU congregations on building partnerships between our congregations and community organizations.
Journey to the Border - UUA/UUSC College of Social Justice is offering service-learning trips to the southwest United States and the borderlands of Mexico to learn firsthand about the complex struggles of the immigrant community. This journey will help you engage your congregation in immigration justice in your own community. Trips will be in February and May 2013. View the brochure (PDF). Please visit our website for details on these and other UUCSJ programs — and register for a trip today.
“Three of the leaders from my congregation’s Immigration Task Force have been on these trips and it has not only transformed them but it has grown them as leaders in our congregation and community. Not only has their first-hand testimony powerfully moved our congregation but through their increased understanding and competency about the issues facing the migrant community in our area they have developed and deepened our partnership with immigrant rights organizations in the Boston area.”—Susan Leslie, First Parish Cambridge (MA) UU Immigration Task Force.
New e-book publication on Action for Immigrant Justice from Skinner House Books: Unitarian Universalist activism in response to Arizona’s S. B. 1070, culminating in Justice General Assembly in Phoenix, produced some of our greatest work as Unitarian Universalists. In the words of UUA President Peter Morales, “Something powerful happened that goes beyond excellent programming.” This year, Skinner House Books has attempted to capture both some of the most popular and thought-provoking events which took place in Phoenix, and some of the “something powerful” which exceeded the confines of the convention center with the publication of a new eBook: Annette Marquis’ striking and heartfelt Resistance: A Memoir of Civil Disobedience in Maricopa County. Propelled to non-violent action by the passage of Arizona’s S.B. 1070, Marquis was arrested and spent a night in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County jail. She reflects on what compelled her to act and what she learned about the struggles of migrants and people of color in Maricopa. Annette recently joined the UUA Multicultural Growth and Witness staff as LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager.
As always, we would love to hear about your congregation’s engagement in immigrant justice ministry; drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In faith, Audra, Craig, Jessica, Kat, Meredith, Susan, and Taquiena
UUA Witness Ministries staff
See www.uua.org/immigration for resources, congregational stories, policy information and more!