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Plenary V Presentation: Taking Justice GA Home, General Assembly 2012

General Assembly 2012 Event 510

Kay Montgomery and the Rev. Harlan Limpert, Executive Vice President and Vice President of the Unitarian Universalist Association present "Taking Justice General Assembly (GA) Home" during GA 2012 Plenary V.

The presentation slides are available for download (PDF, 29 pages).


The Moderator: Please welcome Kay Montgomery and the Rev. Harlan Limpert, Executive Vice President and Vice President of the Unitarian Universalist Association

Harlan: The question for us all, now, is how do we take Justice General Home? The act of coming here has been a declaration that living our Unitarian Universalist faith is inherently about justice-making and justice-building. We all stand on the side of love, we all stand for justice, but we manifest that in the world in our own ways. Our goal here is to give you travel guides for your journey home.

A new movement is taking hold. People are organizing online through Standing on the Side of Love; and they are connecting on the ground with state networks, congregations and community-based organizations to be the best allies possible with immigrant communities. Not only are we creating strong networks for justice; we are building new relationships and we are building a beloved community.

First, if you’re not yet involved in the Restoring Trust campaign, please find out more. The UUA is part of a broad coalition of migrant rights organizations and faith communities that have launched a national campaign to Restore Trust to Our Communities by Breaking Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE’s) Hold. ICE holds, also known as immigration detainers, are the lynchpin of the Secure Communities program, which uses local police and jails to funnel thousands of people into deportation. An ICE hold is a request from ICE to a local law enforcement agency to hold an individual in their custody for 48 hours longer than they would otherwise would, in order to facilitate transfer to ICE.

It’s important for everyone to understand that immigration detainer requests are not mandatory and localities are not legally required to comply with them. If cities and states decide not to detain and transfer people to ICE by refusing to submit to ICE hold requests, then the S-Comm infrastructure collapses. The strategy of the Restoring Trust campaign is to strengthen, amplify and coordinate local campaigns across the country that urge local officials and politicians to adopt ordinances that limit ICE hold requests the county submits to. If you want to learn more about this campaign, visit Immigration Justice, or just email

In addition to getting involved with Restoring Trust, mark your calendar for July 25, 2012, at 8 p.m. EST. Standing on the Side of Love will be holding an online training about Breaking the Isolation of Immigration Detention and Starting a Visitation Program in your community. More than 34,000 people are detained in the U.S. every day, and nearly 400,000 are passed through this system every year. Through this webinar training, people will learn why and how to start a visitation program with information from other successful visitation programs that have resulted in hundreds of visits to detained immigrant and asylum-seeking women in the past year. You can visit to sign up.

Kay: There are travel guides and resources that suggest action steps for you as you return home. The travel guides and resources from our web site and from Beacon Press spring directly from Unitarian Universalist principles and values.

So, for example,if you are looking for a way to begin the conversation about immigration justice work in your congregation, invite people to join you in reading Beacon’s The Death of Josseline , by Margaret Regan and organize a discussion group using the common read guide developed by the Resource Development Office. To help people in your community learn more, offer the six-session curriculum, “Immigration as a Moral Issue,” in response to the association’s focus on immigration as a study-action issue. Or organize a single session or series for adults, young adults, and/or youth using United States Immigration: Theological Reflection and Discussion (PDF, 35 pages).

Invite people to read Beacon books about immigration that provide big-picture information about the history, economics, politics, and human effects of U.S. immigration policy and enforcement- or put them on your own reading list! David Bacon’s book, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants and Aviva Chomsky’s They Take Our Jobs!” and 20 Other Myths About Immigration are excellent and highly readable.

Additionally, you’ll find resources, stories, and models for immigration justice work on the UUA blog, Cooking Together: Recipes for Immigration Justice Work. Read or subscribe to the blog, and send us your stories and your comments for possible publication.

During Justice GA we’ve discovered that Immigration Justice issues, on the surface, are incredibly simple. But, we’ve also been uncovering how far-reaching and complex those issues are below the surface.

Harlan: One of the partner organizations that has been helping UUs to understand Immigration Justice on these multiple levels through service/learning experiences at the U.S./Mexico border is BorderLinks.

Through delegations jointly organized by the UUA and UUSC, by UUA districts, by Valley UU Church, and many others, more than 100 UUs have travelled to Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora in the past year with the goal of growing in understanding and commitment to Immigration Justice through eye-to-eye and soul-to-soul experiential learning.

Among the experiences BorderLinks has organized for our UU delegations are:

  • Meeting with young adults from Scholarship AZ who are ready and want to go to college but can’t because of immigration laws.
  • Walking through the Sonoran desert with the Green Valley Samaritans who seek to assist migrants in that harsh landscape.
  • Lending a hand at the KINO border initiative where migrants who have just recently been deported to Nogales can find a nourishing lunch at this ecumenical ministry.
  • Engaging in conversations, lessons, tears and laughter with people affected by U.S. Immigration policy in innumerable ways.

As you return home inspired by the experiences at Justice GA, consider including BorderLinks in your congregation’s planning for ongoing Immigration Justice work. UUA/UUSC four-day delegations are already planned for October 2012, and May 2013. And additional delegations can be scheduled. For more information, contact BorderLinks directly, or the International Office of the UUA.

Although we experienced General Assembly together—listening, learning, reflecting, witnessing, and growing in our commitment to justice—each person here has also experienced it differently. While each of the congregations and communities to which we return is committed to Unitarian Universalist values and to working for justice, each has a unique approach to doing that. So...

This week we’ve talked about Doctrine of Discovery. You can organize a discussion group using the online guide. The guide, suitable for adults, young adults and youth, is supplemented by a video presentation.

To engage parents and families, both at home and through your religious education or faith development programming, collect and share copies of the Family Pages insert (PDF) in the center of the Summer 2012 issue of UU World. The issue offers stories suitable for sharing in multigenerational worship as well as activities and reflections for families. The curriculum, With Justice and Compassion (PDF, 63 pages), offers four sessions for children’s programs and culminates in a family night where children share what they have learned.

If you are inspired by the energy and commitment of our youth and young adults, organize a group to discuss Beacon’s Acts of Faith , by Eboo Patel, this year’s UU Common Read. The book and discussion guide is also an excellent introduction to interfaith justice work—for youth and adults of all ages and life stages in your faith community. You might follow up the discussion of Acts of Faith with an 8-session Tapestry of Faith curriculum called A Chorus of Faiths, which is based on the work of Patel’s Interfaith Youth Corps. Although the curriculum is written for high schoolers, it is also appropriate for adult or cross generational groups.

Kay: If your faith community is called to work on racial justice issues,organize a group to study the Building the World We Dream About program and learn to build alliances across racial and ethnic lines within your congregation and in the broader community. We are pleased to announce that a young adult adaptation of Building the World We Dream About (Word, 255 pages) (PDF) has just been published on line as part of Tapestry of Faith, and highlights the voices and perspectives of UU young adults.

There are numerous other resources available from the UUA Bookstore and Beacon Press:

  • Anita Hill’s book, Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home, published by Beacon last fall and soon to be in paperback.
  • Martin Luther King’s classic All Labor Has Dignity explores the intersections of racial and economic oppression, and the book contains links to some powerful audio of Dr. King.
  • Bill Fletcher’s "They’re Bankrupting Us!" and 20 Other Myths about Unions is helpful if your congregation is concerned with local and state labor issues.

Our goal has been to give you travel guides for your journey at home. Many of you participated in the Regional “Take Home Gatherings” earlier today to reflect on how to apply your learnings to your local communities. These past few days haven't been the beginning, nor will they be the end of our mission for justice. This is, however, a defining moment. For whenever people unite in common spirit, with faith in something better, faith in love, faith in community, faith in compassion, faith in solidarity...whenever we lift up our voices in unison, something beautiful results—profound and expansive love with the power to transform the world.

The Death of Josseline Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands

By Margaret Regan

From Beacon Press

Dispatches from Arizona-the front line of a massive human migration-including the voices of migrants, Border Patrol, ranchers, activists, and others...

Buy This Book