Rev. Sinkford's Speech at Rally to Stop the ICE Raids on October 1, 2008
UUA Governance & Management, UUA Officers

Good afternoon. I am Rev. Bill Sinkford, and I serve as president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the first denomination to join the New Sanctuary movement, and the first call for a moratorium on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. Unitarian Universalists took these positions because we believe our country’s current treatment of undocumented workers conflicts not only with our faith’s deepest religious principles but also with the basic goals of the United States of America.

The Unitarian Universalist religious tradition celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of every person and affirms the need for justice, equity and compassion in human relations. The recent workplace raids by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement are an affront to these values.

ICE raids dehumanize immigrant workers and communities. Families are torn apart, workers arrested and transported without warning to prisons far from their children and spouses. Detainees are treated poorly in custody and denied adequate legal representation. Entire communities are left with a pervasive sense of anxiety.

We hear a lot of political talk about family values. I’m here to tell you that we value immigrant families.

The Gospel instructs us to ‘love our neighbor as ourselves.’ We cannot stand by as workplace raids violate our dignity and that of our neighbors. We people of faith—and especially those among us who have the privilege of American citizenship—must speak out for everyone in our communities.

The ICE raids are the most glaring symptom of an immigration system that is fundamentally broken. We must remember that this great nation was built by immigrants, for immigrants.

But today, many newcomers following the American Dream and striving to give their children a better life are forced to join a permanent underclass. They labor tirelessly in American fields, kitchens, and factories, providing the foundations for our economy, but immigrants without legal status are denied the most basic rights.

The United States economy would collapse without the contributions of undocumented workers, and yet we refuse to acknowledge our responsibilities toward them. To people of conscience, this situation is intolerable.

My friends and neighbors, it is time to fix what is broken. It’s time for real and just change. We must end the ICE raids now, and draft comprehensive immigration reform. We Americans—whether we are citizens, residents with legal rights, or undocumented workers—we all must demand change.

By calling for an immediate moratorium on ICE raids, we reject the injustice and cruelty of our current laws and take a key step towards compassionate and fair immigration reform.

Please sign the petition and circulate it in your churches and neighborhoods.

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