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Resources to Help Congregations Get Involved in Immigration Justice
The Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA's) focus on immigration justice over the past several years, including the declaration of Immigration as a Moral Issue as the recommended study/action issue for congregations, and the just-completed Justice General Assembly in Phoenix, Ariz., in June 2012, has resulted in a rich collection of resources for congregations seeking to connect with this issue in their communities.
Gail Forsyth-Vail, the UUA’s Adult Programs director, said, “Immigration justice is a faith issue for us. As religious people this is what we are called to do. This is more than a political issue to us. These resources are designed to help us take up this issue and to make a difference where we live.”
The Rev. Ken Brown, district executive for the UUA’s Pacific Southwest District, notes that engaging locally is really just a matter of showing up. “One of the things I’ve learned over the years of being an activist is that, whatever congregation I’ve served or position I’ve been in, the important thing is to just show up and connect to the local community groups. Just being there for their issues, for their events, is the way to demonstrate this is something you care about.”
Suggested Immigration Resources for Congregations
- Immigration as a Moral Issue is the UUA’s 2010–2014 Congregational Study/Action Issue, meaning congregations are encouraged to study immigration issues and then find ways to engage with this issue in their local communities. Section I is a six-week curriculum that includes information on the causes of migration, its history, economic aspects, enforcement, and solutions. Section I can be followed by Sections II and III, which go deeper.
- The Standing on the Side of Love website and Facebook pages provide a way to learn about how other congregations are engaging with immigration and to have conversations with them. It’s also a place to learn about upcoming online trainings, such as the one on July 25 at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, about starting a visitation program for immigrants in detention.
- The Restoring Trust campaign encourages congregations to join with other faith communities and migrant rights groups to ask their local officials to not honor detainer requests from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration detainer requests, also known as “holds,” are not mandatory, despite common belief.
- Reading The Death of Josseline, a Beacon Press book about immigrant deaths along the Arizona-Mexico border, and Eboo Patel’s Acts of Faith, are ways to raise awareness in a congregation about immigration issues. Both books have discussion guides. Other Beacon Press books on immigration are Illegal People and "They Take Our Jobs!": And 20 Other Myths about Immigration There is also an eight-session Tapestry of Faith curriculum called A Chorus of Faiths, based on the work of Patel’s Interfaith Youth Corps.
- Take a trip to the border, or into Mexico, with BorderLinks, a group that focuses on educating church groups on immigration issues. Trips include educational sessions and opportunities to talk with people working on immigration issues along the border. In the past eighteen months at least a hundred Unitarian Universalists (UUs) have been on BorderLinks trips.
- No More Deaths, a ministry of the UU Church of Tucson, provides direct aid to migrants and raises awareness of immigration issues. It has volunteer opportunities.
- Another way to engage a congregation in immigration issues is to learn about the Doctrine of Discovery, the legal justification for colonizing the Americas. There is an online discussion guide.
- To engage parents and families, both at home and through your religious education program, share information in the Family Pages insert in the center of the Summer 2012 print issue of UU World. It offers stories and activities around the issue of immigration.
- A curriculum that focuses on racial justice issues is Building the World We Dream About. There is also a young adult adaptation of Building the World. Other curricula can be found here.
- Other books useful for religious education courses: Anita Hill’s Reimagining Equality; Martin Luther King Jr’s All Labor Has Dignity; and Bill Fletcher’s "They’re Bankrupting Us!"And 20 Other Myths About Unions.
- Learn Spanish by forming a group within your congregation or by attending sessions at a community college or similar forum.
- Read the "Cooking Together" blog for stories of how other congregations have engaged in immigration work.
- The UUA recommends more than a dozen films on immigration, including The Fence, Dying to Live, and The Least of These.
- Worship resources for immigration topics are also available, including hymns, scripture readings, poems, and prayers.