The Arizona Immigration Ministry (AZIM) invites you to Justice General Assembly (GA) 2012.
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NARRATOR: This year’s Justice General Assembly in Phoenix, Arizona promises to shine like no other gathering in our history. One of the brightest flames is the passionate and determined bunch called the Arizona Immigration Ministry.
SUSAN: The Arizona Immigration Ministry has two key purposes. Number one is to work with the UUA staff, the GA Planning Committee, the UUA Board in carrying out and creating a successful Justice GA here in Phoenix in June 2012. The second piece of our work is to build a statewide Arizona organization that works on migrant rights and human rights
NARRATOR: That starts with all of Arizona’s UU congregations working together. Add in a dozen local and national activist groups and you have the Arizona Partners.
These are people with passion and commitment. Some address workers’ rights or civic participation. Some focus on human rights and migrant rights – trying to keep families from being torn apart, insisting that all people be treated with dignity and respect. Several groups see their mission as preventing misery and death in the unforgiving desert near the border.
And they all work at working together.
KEN BROWN: The number one step, really, is just showing up. I mean, one of the things I’ve learned over the years of being an activist as a UU minister is that, whatever congregation I’ve served or position I’ve been in, is just showing up and connecting to the local community groups. Connecting to being there for the issues, being there at the events they put on and connecting at that level.
LUIS AVILA: The most important part of collaboration or collaborating is that people are actually on the ground. So the fact that the Unitarians come to the Somos America meeting every week, that they participate, that one of the members of a Unitarian church was a member of our board last year, that we have representatives on immigration issues talking to the church about things that are happening in the community, but also bringing information from the church to our organization. So I think for collaboration we have to have people on the ground. Sending newsletter or email is not good enough. We have to have real people, know their faces, know their names and be able to connect with them.
NARRATOR: The work of the Arizona Immigration Ministry takes many forms. UUs carefully follow the legislature and speak up when they see migrants’ rights being threatened.
Working with the Arizona Partners, they plan, they strategize, they educate, they witness, they love.
VICTORIA LOPEZ: In my experience and in my collaboration with the UUs here in Phoenix, just such deep passion, and dedication, and heart behind the issue. It’s moving in a way that—it’s inspiring.
NARRATOR: One inspiring service project at Justice GA is a citizenship workshop for legal permanent residents. It’s sponsored by the group called UURISE—UU Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education, and Mi Familia Vota—a nonprofit that encourages civic participation in the Latino community,
ABIGAIL: We’re hoping to have probably between 200 and 300 volunteers. That will give us the opportunity to help around 400 people in just one citizenship workshop.
The Arizona Partners are behind many of the workshops and witness events at GA. It's partly about immigration. It’s ALL about justice.
SUSAN: For a person who’s interested in justice work in general, whether they’re a UU or not, there are going to be frameworks for organizing that are going to be applicable if you’re working on marriage equality issues, if you’re working on fighting homelessness, if you’re working on education equality or health care, there are principles of organizing that are going to be featured and taught at this General Assembly that can be used in many issues.
DANIEL: What Arizona is going through right now, it takes faith to get through. It takes a lot of hope and a lot of faith to be able to overcome a lot of challenges that people in Arizona have to face, especially the immigrant undocumented community.
CARLOS: I think the hope comes with organizing. The hope comes every day with new people that you meet that you’re able to share values, that you’re able to talk about issues of what’s really going on.
DANIEL: And when organizations are able to collaborate with churches, you’re able to provide services and information that are vital for families, you’re also able to provide something which for me is a little bit more of importance which is hope and the faith that things are going to get better. And I think that the churches and the community groups need to continue working hand in hand.
SUSAN: So my theology of social justice is really about—it’s the theology of Unitarian Universalism...that we are part of one great love, one human family, that we all have human dignity, and that our faith calls us to stand up when people’s rights and dignity are being threatened and denied.