The message below went out on Saturday, June 23, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
“Is Sheriff Joe afraid that the Unitarian Universalists leading the demonstration will pray those jail doors open?”
–Stephen Lemons, writing for the Phoenix New Times
Tonight: Tent City. Thousands strong, we will lift our voices against the inhumane conditions at this place that Sheriff Joe Arpaio himself calls a “concentration camp.” What is Sheriff Arpaio’s response to our peaceful candlelight vigil at Tent City? To put Maricopa County jails on lockdown, and prevent inmates from receiving visits from friends or family for 24 hours. Indeed, Arpaio plans to punish those who are already subjugated.
Friends—it’s time for us to raise our voices together, all across the country, and demand, unequivocally, that the federal government Shut Down Tent City! Tent City represents the worst of a culture of cruelty perpetrated in the name of the U.S. government and is a shameful component of the federal system of mass detention and deportation. Help us shine a light on these egregious human rights abuses here in Arizona and across the nation!
Please join us in calling on President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to end the culture of cruelty by placing the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office under receivership, closing of Tent City, and cutting off all ICE powers from Maricopa County.
Click here to send your message.
Today, UUA President Rev. Peter Morales will join a delegation that is touring Tent City—special guests of Sheriff Arpaio. I am not optimistic that any dialogue between human rights observers and Arpaio will lead to positive change, though I am glad for the opportunity our denomination and others have to bear witness, even if it is only one more “media hit” for the Sheriff.
No matter what—tonight, thousands of us will protest the grotesque, unconstitutional conditions at this jail that have been allowed to go unchecked for far too long. We will lift our voices and demand a cessation to the cruelty perpetuated in Maricopa County. Never was a truer rallying cry than Arrest Arpaio, Not the People!
Join us! Click here to send your message urging a shut-down of Tent City.
“They’re not going to stop me with their little demonstration,” Sheriff Arpaio told the Arizona media about our Puente-UUA demonstration at Tent City. Maybe not today, Sheriff. Maybe not tomorrow. But we will stop you. The bending arc of justice will stop accommodating you. People of conscience and good will expose you. We will replace your cruelty with calls for compassion, faith in a better America, family first, and freedom for all who seek basic life, liberty, and happiness.
May Justice Prevail.
Standing on the Side of Love
Tomorrow we head to Tent City.
Because, as the lyrics of “None of Us Are Free” so eloquently state, “We’ve got to join together in spirit, heart and mind. So that every soul who’s suffering will know they’re not alone.”
In anticipation of our visit tomorrow, here is a great version of the powerful song sung by Solomon Burke, with backup from the Blind Boys of Alabama:
“And there are people still in darkness,
And they just can’t see the light.
If you don’t say it’s wrong then that says it right.
We got try to feel for each other, let our brother’s know that
Got to get the message, send it out loud and clear.”
The message below went out on Friday, June 22, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
“I think there is the sense that it’s the border and that they’re ‘illegal.’ There’s this view that they aren’t supposed to be there, and they put themselves in the situation. Whatever happens to them they deserve. It’s hard to get sympathy or garner outrage over some of these cases.”
-Michelle Brané, Dir. of the Detention & Asylum program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, discussing the lack of mainstream media attention paid to U.S. Border Patrol abuse of migrants.
In her “Prayer for Justice General Assembly,” Rev. Lilia Cuervo wrote, “Spirit of Justice, help us even in the middle of our busy lives to be clear that our work is not finished until those responsible for advancing and protecting migrants rights, effectively and conscientiously do so.”
This morning at our Justice General Assembly, in a workshop entitled “Culture of Cruelty: Documenting Human Rights Abuses Against Immigrants,” Standing on the Side of Love will join No More Deaths and Amnesty International to do just that—shine the light on Border Patrol abuse of migrants and discuss how the country’s largest law enforcement agency can be held more accountable.
Even if you aren’t in Phoenix this week, you can still speak out against this culture of cruelty. Click here to use our “Love in Action” Facebook app to send a message to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano.
Human rights organizations working at the border have found consistent patterns of Border Patrol abuse during detention and deportation. For example, the humanitarian organization No More Deaths documented 30,000 incidents of abuse from November 2008-March 2011. Since 2010, nine people have been reported killed or seriously injured in Border Patrol custody. While the Department of Homeland Security, under which Border Patrol falls, has internal oversight mechanisms, they are not preventing the kinds of abuse taking place. Independent observers are needed to monitor Border Patrol detention conditions.
Click here to take action and tell Secretary Napolitano that these human rights abuses must end.
It is imperative to give human rights advocates access to Border Patrol facilities. Only through outside monitoring—and independent oversight of Border Patrol from outside DHS—will the Border Patrol’s culture of cruelty truly change.
Standing on the Side of Love
It’s been amazing to observe the swarm of Unitarian Universalists and immigrant justice advocates descend on Phoenix for Justice General Assembly over the last few days. Last night, hundreds of us gathered in Historic Heritage Square to raise our voices and stand on the side of love against the abuse and injustice that is happening in Arizona.
Despite the palpable energy for immigrant rights here at the Phoenix Convention Center, back at home I struggle to explain the need for comprehensive immigration reform to less-sympathetic friends and family. One of my greatest frustrations is trying to respond to the constant refrain of “Why can’t they just come to the United States legally?” or “They should have waited their turn like everyone else.” No matter my arguments against the destructive Secure Communities program or in favor of the DREAM Act, the idea that undocumented immigrants were simply too lazy or impatient to come to this country legally seems to worm its way into every conversation on the topic.
In reality, this supposed “legal path to immigration” is a myth for many would-be rule-abiding migrants. Though most would have been glad to come to the United States with the proper paperwork, this avenue is essentially non-existent. According to a recent study by the National Foundation for American Policy, qualified immigrants wait an average of five years or more to become permanent residents while the processing time for people who have solicited their residency through family members is up to 22 years. The study, entitled “Legal Immigrants: Waiting Forever,” also reveals that the spouse or child of a permanent resident must wait approximately seven years if they are Mexican, or five years if they are from other countries, to enter the United States legally. This means that families can be separated for years under the current immigration system.
Moreover, migration is often a matter of survival for one’s family. According to Manuel Cruz, an undocumented immigrant in Los Angeles, “If I don’t (take the) risk, I’ll die anyway and my family will die of hunger. Who wouldn’t like to come to the U.S. legally and avoid the fear of suffocating in a van, or dehydrating (in the desert), getting bitten by a poisonous insect, or killed… or drowning in the river?” For immigrants like Manuel, it is simply not possible to wait to clear all of the hurdles, such as quotas and processing delays, that are inherent in our current immigration system–the lives of their children often depend on it.
So let’s dispel this myth of a “legal path” to immigration. Instead of trying to rid our country of undocumented immigrants, let’s try to find solutions to our broken immigration system. Will you join me?More >
Pondering a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on SB1070, taking in the energy of the UUA’s Justice General Assembly, we here at Standing on the Side of Love are struck by this quote:
“I am a citizen of the world. The Earth is my country, and humanity is my nation.”
The quote is from journalist, politician, and human rights activist Tawakel Karman, who is known in her native Yemen as “Iron Woman” and “Mother of the Revolution.” Karman was the first Arab woman and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize (2011), and she is the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate to date. #Justice4AZMore >