In the first major justice-related action of his presidency, Rev. Peter Morales traveled to Washington, DC, to take part in an interfaith messaging training and lobby day in support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The day’s events were organized by several groups from the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, of which the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is an active member.
After a morning of reviewing figures, policies, and messages, the group, which included prominent leaders from 12 different faith traditions, headed to Capitol Hill with the request that Congress fix our broken immigration system by passing comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible.
“Comprehensive” reform means that all major aspects of the broken system are addressed at once, from creating accessible paths to citizenship and reuniting families to enhancing economic stability and national security. The Unitarian Universalist Association, together with hundreds of other religious, civil rights, bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender (BGLT), and economic justice organizations, supports comprehensive immigration reform as the only practical and ethical solution to the current inadequate and dehumanizing patchwork of laws and practices.
President Morales joined other religious leaders on visits to the offices of Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Arlen Specter (D-PA). Together with Rob Keithan, Director of the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy, Morales finished the day with a visit to the Office of Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA), who represents the district which includes the Association’s Beacon Hill headquarters. Since Representative Lynch had already declared his support for comprehensive immigration reform, Morales and Keithan urged him to take a stronger role in pressing the House to take up the issue quickly. Delay, they stressed, only increases the emotional and economic suffering experienced by immigrants and non-immigrants alike as a result of the broken system.
Morales emphasized that much of the problem comes from U.S. economic policies in the first place, with immigrants paying the price for what amounts to a mixed message. Relating an observation from another faith colleague earlier in the day, Morales said “We have a ‘stay out’ sign at the border, but a ‘help wanted’ sign everywhere else.”
Everyone in the meeting agreed that passing comprehensive immigration reform would require enough strong supporters to counterbalance the well-funded and well-organized opposition. Rev. Morales hopes that more Unitarian Universalist congregations will join the growing interfaith movement for change.
In a video interview (YouTube) on the day, Morales reflected: “This is really an exciting time. We have a window of opportunity, and there’s such broad support around common values: both humane treatment of everyone, and yet doing practical, realistic reform. I would hate to see us lose this opportunity.”
For more information on taking action to support comprehensive immigration reform in August-September, visit the Interfaith Integration Coalition website. For more information about comprehensive immigration reform, and how you and your congregation can get involved, visit the UUA's social justice issues pages focusing on immigration reform.