Immigration is a hotly divisive issue. Living and working in the United States are twelve million undocumented people, vulnerable to human rights abuses and exploitation. Some people think that all twelve million should be deported, while others believe that immigrants who want to work and have good moral character should be offered a path to legalization.
No matter which side of the issue one identifies with, most Americans agree that the need for immigration reform has lost a crisis point. That is why the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA's) May Action of the Month is Crash Course for Immigrant Justice—a project to promote education and discussion about immigration issues.
Hopefully, the various Crash Course activities and resources will prompt the exploration of difficult questions, not only about policy but also about the heart. How can we, as Unitarian Universalists (UUs), take the side of love in the immigration debate?
May has a special place in the immigrant justice movement.
Since the late 1800s, May 1st has been an occasion to celebrate the rights of workers. On May 1, 2006, hundreds of thousands of immigrants and allies marched for their rights in cities and towns across the United States.
On May 12, 2008, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted one of the largest and most expensive workplace raids in United States history, arresting nearly 400 immigrant workers at a meat packing plant in Postville, IA. The raid’s effect was devastating; by the following morning one third of Postville's population of roughly 2,200 people had fled.
This May, immigrants and allies are commemorating the raid in Postville, and once again marching on May Day weekend. In Kansas City, MO, Unitarian Universalists will participate in an interfaith project to post paper hearts on trees in a park across from the immigration court house, urging support for the Child Citizen Protection Act (CCPA). The CCPA would allow judges to consider the welfare of citizen children when evaluating deportations of undocumented parents. Unitarian Universalists from Phoenix, AZ, will join a march from Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s offices to the local detention center to demand an end to Arpaio’s civil rights abuses of immigrant detainees. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford, MA, will host a free talk on immigration reform by an accomplished immigration attorney.
This is a crucial moment to speak out in support of immigrants. By the end of May, President Obama is expected to introduce his immigration reform proposal.
The brokenness of our immigration system and the government’s anticipated effort to repair it is a call to Unitarian Universalists to become informed about the issues, so that we can work effectively on the side of love.
Roll Up Your Sleeves and Learn
How informed do you feel about immigration issues and immigrant justice? Can you name some of the ways in which being undocumented affects the life of a person living in the United States? Do you know how the wall along the Mexico-U.S. border has affected the death rate of border crossers, or impacted American Indian communities and endangered species? Have you wondered why people who enter the United States illegally don’t just “get in the back of the line?”
Learn more by checking out Crash Course for Immigrant Justice, which includes guidelines for conducting an interactive art project, hosting a congregational Immigration/Migration Quiz Night, and competing in an essay contest. Keep up to date on immigration and UU advocacy by following UUA Immigration on Twitter, or hold a discussion night with members of your congregation to talk about a book, film, or sermon.
See how even UUA President Rev. William G. Sinkford is taking part in Sinkford Takes a Crash Course Challenge.