Focus on Immigration Reform
Submitted by Roberta Ray, University Unitarian Church, Seattle
May 11th – Mother’s Day Vigil at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma
On Saturday, May 11th, people of faith and conscience will gather at the Northwest Detention Center (1623 East “J” St., in Tacoma, WA) for the 5th Mothers Day Vigil in support of immigrant mothers and families, and to witness for compassionate immigration reform. The program will begin at noon and will feature testimonials, prayers, and songs from community members and immigrant rights supporters.
Rev. Marian Stewart of the Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirkland, WA and a board member of WA State UU Voices for Justice, will be one of the featured speakers.
The Northwest Detention Center is owned and run by The Geo Group, Inc., a privately-run prison business. At a capacity of 1,575, the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma is the fourth-largest immigration detention facility in the country. It houses immigrants detained in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho.
The event is co-sponsored by the Washington New Sanctuary Movement and the Oregon Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us in envisioning comprehensive immigration reform that incorporates compassion for everyone who will be impacted by upcoming immigration reform legislation.
What is meant by “Compassionate Immigration Reform”?
- A generous and practical pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals residing in our country.
- A reaffirmation and strengthening of the family immigration process by eliminating the backlog of visa applications that has separated families for years and reunification of previously deported individuals with their U.S. citizen families.
- A policy that respects all families equally.
- Promotion of fair and humane treatment of all workers, permitting safe and legal means of immigrating for employment, with reasonable employment eligibility verifications systems.
- Border enforcement that is humane and consistent with civil and human rights, along with compassionate interior immigration enforcement by dismantling the current immigration detention system, banning racial profiling, and ending state and local intrusions into immigration policy and enforcement.
- Preserving and restoring fairness, due process, and equal protection in the immigration system, repealing arbitrary bars to re-entry, and restoring judicial discretion in immigration matters.
- Protection for vulnerable communities, children, asylum seekers, refuges, survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and other crimes.
- Promotion and enhancement of programs and policies that foster full integration into the social, economic, and civic fabric of society.
- Policies and actions that address the root causes of migration.
These principles are shared by a broad spectrum of faith groups, labor unions, organizations, and businesses representing and serving diverse communities, including Washington UU Voices for Justice.
Numerous organizations are calling on the Obama Administration to halt deportations while immigration reform legislation is being worked out. #Not1More is a project to confront unjust immigration enforcement policies launched by UUA partners at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).
Northwest Detention Center Visitation Program
A new Volunteer Visitation Program at the Northwest Detention Center has begun! Pat Gunn and Barbara Peterman, both of University Unitarian Church in Seattle, have contributed leadership and numerous hours to the development of this effort, which is a program of the Northwest Detention Center Roundtable. The program works directly with attorneys and social workers to link volunteers with people who are detained who wish to have visitors. Volunteer visitors brighten days, bring hope, and break isolation. To learn more, contact email@example.com or visit www.nwdcroundtable.org.
Rep. Luis Moscoso Receives Golden Door Award
The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) presented Rep. Luis Moscoso with its Golden Door Award for his commitment to the rights of immigrants and refugees in our state. This session, Rep. Moscoso sponsored two legislative efforts of importance to immigrants and refugees, both of which were supported by Washington UU Voices for Justice. He is a first generation Peruvian-American and the first person of color to represent the First Legislative District, which includes parts of King and Snohomish counties.
Faith Community Sign-On Letter for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
We have before us a historic moment with the potential for the passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. One bill has been put forth, S. 744, which is comprehensive in nature and will provide for a pathway – though very long – to permanent residency and citizenship. Faith leaders and congregations are invited to sign onto a letter specifically from the faith community in Washington State to our Washington Congressional delegation. The letter is an opportunity to address improvements needed in the bill from a principled basis.
To add your name and listing to the letter, or if you have responses, comments or questions, contact Michael Ramos at the Church Council of Greater Seattle, firstname.lastname@example.org
. The goal is to send the final letter with signatories to our congressional delegation on May 15.
Learn More about Compassionate Immigration Reform
The State Advocacy Networks gathering before last week’s Pacific Western Regional Assembly in San Jose featured two speakers who provided excellent information on the pending federal immigration reform bill.
Richard Hobbs, immigration attorney and member of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California (UULMCA) Immigrant Justice Steering Committee, offered an excellent presentation that highlights the features of the bill:
Sandy Weir, Arizona Immigration Ministry Organizer, provided handouts about options for engagement in comprehensive immigration reform: Final Some Options for Engagement in Comprehensive Immigration Reform-1.docx
Many thanks to Richard, Sandy, and Reverend Lindi Ramsden, Executive Director of UULMCA, for providing the more than 80 attendees with this opportunity to learn more about how Unitarian Universalists can join with others to do the work that needs to be done.
Criminal Justice Reform
The Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation is hosting showings and discussions of two powerful films about the effects of America’s War on Drugs and the new Jim Crow system that has resulted in the incarceration of millions of African Americans.
Let’s Give a Shout Out to Rhode Island!
A jubilant crowd celebrated last Thursday as Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signed into law the state’s marriage equality bill. Rhode Island legislators made their state the 10th in the nation to approve same-sex marriage.
“I know that you have been waiting for this day to come,” said Governor Chafee to the celebrants. “I know you have loved ones who have dreamed this would happen and did not live to see it. But I am proud to say that now, at long last, you are free to marry the person you love.”
Same-sex marriages will be legal in Rhode Island beginning August 1. Congratulations, Rhode Islanders!
Delaware will probably be next state to act on marriage equality, possibly as early as next week, followed by Minnesota and Illinois, which are moving toward passage of laws in their states.