UUA Immigration News
November 2012: Moving Forward for Immigrant Justice!
Now that the election is over it looks like humane immigration reform has an opportunity to be passed in the next Congress. We will be working with our faith-based and immigrant rights partners to develop shared faith principles and vision for our advocacy on any new legislation to be sure that it is fair and based on keeping families together. We also want to say a big thank you to the UU Legislative Ministries of Maryland, our congregation-based community organizations, and others who helped pass the DREAM Act in Maryland.
In this issue:
- Wish for the Holidays family messages to Congress. There’s still time to send your letters to We Belong Together who are sending them out for us all. They need them by Nov. 30th.
- Show Walmart Workers Some Love on Black Friday (Day after Thanksgiving, Fri., Nov. 23rd). Walmart is one of the largest employers of immigrants in the US and Walmart workers are asking for our support by holding prayer vigils, flash mobs, and delivering letters to store managers.
- Right before the elections the Boston New Sanctuary movement held a vigil at the Boston detention center featured here as this month’s Best Practice.
- We do have an urgent ask this month: Border patrol agents killed a Mexican teenager who was on the Mexico side of the border. No More Deaths is asking us to contact the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.
- As we all move forward on this new terrain that seems to be shifting in our favor we have a new interfaith campaign, Breaking Bread and Building Bridges, and news about an upcoming interfaith conference Migration Policy and Advocacy in 2013 and Beyond: New Challenges and New Opportunities in Atlanta, GA on Dec 3-5, 2012. Also please note that starting today congregations can (and we hope you do) submit comments on the UUA Draft Statement of Conscience Immigration as a Moral Issue.
Let's keep our momentum going as we build Beloved Community!
In faith and hope,
Audra, Craig, Jessica, Meredith, Susan, and Taquiena
UUA Witness Ministries staff
A Wish for the Holidays: Ending November 30th: 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.
Show Walmart Workers some Love: At Justice GA, Kim Bobo, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), spoke about faith communities supporting low wage and migrant workers and their Walmart campaign. The day after Thanksgiving, so-called “Black Friday,” is the biggest shopping day of the year. IWJ and Standing on the Side of Love are asking congregations and community organizations to “show Walmart workers some love" at a Walmart near them on that day. You can learn more about the campaign and find an event near you or plan one, hold a short prayer vigil and deliver a letter to the store manager on that day in support of Organization United for Respect (OUR Walmart). More info at IWJ's website and at www.uua.org.
Best Practice: Boston Detention Center Vigils::Over 100 people from different faiths held a vigil organized by Boston New Sanctuary Movement at the Suffolk Detention Center in Boston on Sunday November 4th. Rev. Betsy Sowers, Chair of the social action team at Old Cambridge Baptist Church, led the vigil in prayer for those being incarcerated while facing deportation - and for their families who face separation from their loved ones. People at the vigil called out the names of those who have died while in detention in the U.S., including Pedro Tavaraez, a 47 year old man from the Dominican Republic, who died while in detention at Suffolk in the fall of 2009. The vigilers marched with signs and banners, including Standing on the Side of Love, chanting "No More Detentions, No More Deportations." As they reached the back of the detention center, the undocumented people in detention greeted us by pounding on their barred windows and put up homemade signs reading 'Thank you and God Bless'. The next vigil will be on the first Sunday in May. See our list of partners for coordinating interfaith vigils. See here for information about visitation programs.
Take Action: No more killings. An end to Border Patrol impunity: On the night of October 10, around 11:30 p.m., José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a 16-year-old resident of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, was shot dead by a U.S. Border Patrol agent in his own country. This occurrence was not unique. There have been 18 violent killings by Border Patrol since 2010. Among them is Ramsés Barrón Torres, 17, who on January 5, 2011, died in Nogales like José Antonio, on Mexican soil. The known circumstances of these killings strongly suggest unnecessary or excessive use of force. Please join us in denouncing them and calling for action.
Breaking Bread and Building Bridges: Early next year, congregations of all faiths all across the country are going to gather together to strengthen the connections in their communities between different faiths and between faith and migrant rights organizations and communities. This campaign is being sponsored by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition which represents a very wide array of faiths—Unitarian Universalists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Mennonites, United Church of Christ, Catholics, Reform Jews, Friends, Muslims, Sikhs, and others. The New Sanctuary Movement in several cities support it as well as the National Day Laborers Organizing Network and its affiliates.
The purpose of the campaign is to build and/or strengthen relationships and solidarity between groups and members of groups. We also hope to strengthen and/or create coalitions that advocate for a change in public policies that affect immigrants or help meet the needs of asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants in detention centers. One of the shared values of the campaign is that families should stay together—united—not separated. We value all families.
The program is simple—meet and break bread together with a short program following the meal that lifts up an issue relevant to your community or lifts up broad based community coalitions that have made a difference. Campaigns will take place between mid February and mid May. Resources will be available on the Interfaith Immigration Coalition website. Please sign up here so we can put you on the map and notify you about future conference calls and other resources.
Conference: Migration Policy and Advocacy in 2013 and Beyond: New Challenges and New Opportunities – Atlanta, GA-- Dec 3-5, 2012
- The Theology of Immigration
- Chances for Immigration Reform in 2013
- Post-Election Analysis
- The Supreme Court Decision in Arizona v. United States and its impact on State and Federal Laws
- Communicating a Pro-Refugee and Immigrant Message
- A Conversation with Government Officials
- Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta
- Bishop John Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, Chairman, USCCB Committee on Communications
- Fr. Daniel Groody, Associate Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
- Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice, and former ED, National Immigration Forum
- Jeanne Butterfield, Raben Group, former executive director of American Immigration Lawyer’s Association
- Ana Navarro, advisor, Republican National Committee
Register for the conference and get more information here.
Social Witness Opportunity: Send Feedback on Draft Statement of Conscience Immigration As a Moral Issue: For a Draft Statement of Conscience (SOC) to appear on the 2013 General Assembly Final Agenda, UUA bylaws require a minimum of 25% of certified congregations to participate in the ballot vote on whether the Draft SOC should be placed on the Final Agenda. Poll opens November 15, 2012. Comments from congregations will be accepted on the draft SOC Immigration as a Moral Issue from November 15, 2012 through February 1, 2013. Learn more and find instructions here.
See www.uua.org/immigration for resources, organizing campaigns, stories, policy info and more!