BEACON: Immigrant Welcoming Congregation
Immigrant Welcoming Congregation
At the Annual Meeting on Sunday, May 20, the congregation will be asked to vote on important social justice issue. Immigration justice is a complex and difficult subject. The Immigration Justice Action Team of the Social Mission Committee hopes that you will support our efforts to become an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation. The text of our proposal can be found below. The Action Team is not presenting a framework for proposed comprehensive immigration reform. We do ask that you value, support, and join us in our efforts to act on our UU principles while standing with those abused by our current immigration system.
After the 2010 UU General Assembly selected “Immigration as a Moral Issue” as the 2010 – 2014 Congregational Study/Action Issue. UT's Immigration Justice Action Team was formed. Since Fall 2010, we have researched, studied, and discussed this topic. The UUA provides a variety of well-researched information, as well as descriptions of actions by congregations around the country (UU World Spring 2012 and more.) Here at UT, we have just completed the UUA adult RE curriculum on immigration issues. (All of this can be found at http://www.uua.org/immigration/index.shtml ) The team has discovered incredibly rich resources in Illinois and Chicago not only to learn about the intricacies of this issue, but also to meet with, learn from and act with those directly impacted.
The United States is a country of immigrants, founded by people searching for social, political, economic and religious freedom. How established citizens have treated each new wave of immigrants has often been a shameful story, directly violating our First UU Principle: respect for the inherent worth and dignity of each person. Our current US policies and procedures totally lack a coherent system. For example, a person wishing to come to the United States for a job as a manual laborer today might have to wait approximately 50 years if following all regulations and requirements. At the same time, we welcome those with special skills and abilities (e.g. athletes, scientists, health professionals) or with money to invest with little to no regard for the impact on their home countries. Our economic policies have created conditions that have driven farmers from their traditional communal lands and across our borders looking for work to feed their families..
The Social Mission Committee is a member of the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition, whose. mission is to engage faith communities and leaders to live in compassionate solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers through education, advocacy, and action. The Coalition asks members to declare themselves an Immigrant Welcoming Congregations as a public witness to the work they are doing to achieve this mission.
Why should this be a priority in our social justice work? Since 2001 our government has based our immigration policy on the protection of our borders through enforcement and the search for “terrorists”. The Immigration and Naturalization Service and Customs Bureau were folded into the Department of Homeland Security. Those without proper documentation are treated as criminals, shackled, put in orange jumpsuits and whisked away with no ability to contact family or legal assistance. For-profit incarceration corporations or county and state law enforcement with empty jails to fill manage Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) detention centers. There are strong economic incentives and resultant strong lobbyists to create and maintain this detention system. Every day in our region, hundreds of people are detained, separated from their families, and denied basic human rights. Deportations have increased steadily under the Obama administration. Policies to only deport those convicted of serious crimes or those with no family ties or financial obligations are not being implemented.
US economic and foreign policies and practices have resulted in about 12 million persons living in our country without proper documentation. The same policies push others to risk everything to come here raising more questions than can be answered by one single congregation. This is the injustice and incomprehensible system that we ask you to support by your “YES” vote on May 20.
There will be a forum to discuss this proposal onThursday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the Gale House. Absentee ballots will be available in advance.
Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Covenant to Become
An Immigrant Welcoming Congregation
Acknowledging that immigrants have built and enriched this country from its inception, we join with the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition and fellow faith communities to:
· Engage with other faith communities and leaders through education, advocacy and action to live in compassionate solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers.
· Stand together in faith in agreeing that, regardless of national origin, everyone has basic human rights including: livelihood, family unity, and physical and emotional safety.
· Commit ourselves to lifting up the voices of immigrants and creating space for telling their stories.
· Comply with current laws while advocating for reform of current immigration policies, and transformation of the social and economic systems that are the root causes of migration.
· Build relationships of solidarity and mutuality. We will work toward making not just our religious communities, but our world, a sanctuary of peace and justice for all people.
Therefore, we covenant to:
· Be a welcoming congregation: a public, prophetic voice in support of fair treatment and hospitality toward our immigrant sisters and brothers.
· Build relationships of solidarity and mutuality through voluntary service, action based on UU principles and advocacy.
· Challenge ourselves to listen deeply and learn continually from all who are affected by the current crisis.
Adapted from Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition, a project of the Chicago Religious Network on Latin America (CRLN) covenant. February 2012.