The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Wednesday, November 16, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
You have heard a lot about the Cardenas family in Denver this past year. Through Raul Cardenas, you witnessed just one example of what ‘undocumented’ looks like. Working with the Cardenas family and the Immigration Justice Task Force and leadership at First Universalist Church of Denver, the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign was able to lift up Raul and Judy’s struggle to keep their family intact, and prevent a father from being torn from his home, wife, and children.
Thousands of you signed petitions and made phone calls to help prevent Raul’s deportation. A robust community of clergy and congregants stood side-by-side with the family at Raul’s April deportation hearing. That day, a judge offered “half good news,” as Judy called it, with a continuance of Raul’s case until November. This week, Raul again had his day in court.
I am thrilled to report some wonderful news. Judy and Raul have informed us that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have agreed to a motion to administratively close Raul’s deportation. According to Raul and Judy’s attorney, this is a battle won. Raul’s case will be indefinitely removed from the docket and not prosecuted.
“This a victory for our many letters and requests for ‘prosecutorial discretion,’” Judy said. “We are, indeed, a blessed community and fortunate to be connected with loving support.”
Today the Cardenas family will rest easy with the knowledge that they can remain together, surrounded by the love and support of a community that extends from Maine to California, and Washington to Florida. This community includes people like you, who cared enough to learn about this family and advocate for keeping them together.
Unfortunately, Raul and Judy’s problems are not over. Raul is not eligible for any change of legal status or work permit without a change in the law, or further administrative action.
However, the tide is turning with your help: In August Obama announced an initiative with Sec. Napolitano of Department of Homeland Security (and the Department of Justice) to focus immigration enforcement on people with criminal records. This renewed push for common sense “prosecutorial discretion” is designed to review and clear out “low-priority cases” like Raul’s from 300,000 backlogged deportation proceedings.
Until a humane, comprehensive immigration reform bill is passed we can’t stop. Prosecutorial discretion can help many individuals, however it is only a temporary solution. We must remember that the Obama Administration has deported an all-time record 1 million immigrants since 2009, and that thousands of U.S. citizen children have been taken from their parents and placed in foster care as a result of U.S. deportations.*
Make no mistake: those of us seeking justice for immigrants and their families are making progress — one family at a time, one defeated anti-immigrant law at a time. With each email to our senators, letter to the editor of our newspapers, and commitment to stay educated, speak out, and remain engaged in the struggle for a more just society, we move forward.
On behalf of Judy and Raul and their children, I thank you for your help in keeping this family together, and for standing on the side of love.
Standing on the Side of Love
P.S. Let’s keep the momentum going! Sign up for our upcoming Dec. 7 webinar, “Deepening Congregational Involvement with Standing on the Side of Love.”
*Reuters reports, “about 1.06 million deported immigrants as of September 12, 2011.” link: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/20/us-obama-immigration-idUSTRE78J05720110920More >
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Tuesday, November 15, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
I can’t thank you enough. At the end of September, my organization, No More Deaths, released “Culture of Cruelty,” a report that painstakingly details abuses of migrants by the U.S. Border Patrol. After interviewing 13,000 people and documenting 30,000 incidents of abuse, we hoped that people of conscience would take a stand. Thousands of you signed a petition to President Obama, urging him to intervene against systemic abuse perpetrated by the nation’s largest federal enforcement agency. You also wrote letters to the editor to your local papers and made phone calls to Border Patrol.
As a result of your advocacy, No More Deaths got the chance to speak directly with the Administration yesterday. Our delegation met with White House advisors to show them the extent of the abuse, and the Border Patrol leadership’s alarming inability to control their agents. We shared our stories, and we gave the White House a simple message: You can end this now.
And we’re not stopping there. Today we are on Capitol Hill, educating Congress about the disturbing daily reality along the border. We will be calling for independent oversight of the Department of Homeland Security and an end to the increases in border and immigration enforcement that tear our families apart. Before we return to Arizona we’ll meet with international human rights organizations, national immigrant and border advocates, and key partners in the fight for justice and dignity for all.
In just a few hours we will meet with Customs and Border Protection. They’re hoping this will all go away. You helped ensure that the human rights abuses outlined in our report won’t be forgotten.
As exciting as all this is, the hard truth is that nothing has changed – yet. Now that we have the attention of the White House and Border Patrol, it’s crucial for you to weigh in again and let the Administration know that meetings aren’t enough – it’s time for direct, decisive action.
Please call the White House today and help us deliver three key messages:
(1) Thank you for meeting with No More Deaths and immigrant rights groups and sending a message that you are concerned about Border Patrol abuse.
(2) Please urge the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the widespread abuse being perpetrated by Border Patrol.
(3) The Department of Homeland Security cannot monitor itself. Please establish an independent oversight mechanism outside of DHS to hold Border Patrol agents accountable.
Friends, Border Patrol abuses reach far beyond Arizona and affect us all. When we allow anyone to be mistreated, we send the message that discrimination and cruelty are acceptable. These abuses fly in the face of justice, accountability and what’s morally right.
On behalf of No More Deaths, I offer many thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Association Funding Program and the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign for supporting the work of No More Deaths, and this report. And I thank you for your commitment to a world where all people are treated with basic dignity and respect.
Author, “Culture of Cruelty”
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Friday, November 11, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
The 13th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance is fast approaching. Many of us are seeking a space where we can gather, grieve, honor, and recommit to a better world, where gender non-conforming people are free from violence, harassment, and discrimination.
On behalf of the Church of the Larger Fellowship and the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign, I invite you to a special service commemorating the Transgender Day of Remembrance—a service that can be attended by anyone with a computer and internet access.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice, but we really want this to celebrate life as well as honor the dead, and the incredible strength and beauty of the diverse trans community. We want to provide a prayerful space where together we may mourn those are no longer with us, while also offering hope and beauty and celebration of the living.
Rev. Meg Riley
Church of the Larger Fellowship
PS: Click here if you are looking for a fantastic collection of resources, ranging from prayers and “Trans 101” guides to “10 Ways to be More Welcoming to Understanding of Trans People.”
The past two months all eyes have turned their focus on Alabama after its passage of the most draconian anti-immigration bill in our recent history. Even after Judge Blackburn enjoined several sections of the law and the 11th Circuit Court enjoined several more, this law remains the toughest on record. These injunctions are temporary and the 11th Circuit Court will not hear the case until sometime in 2012. Senator Beason, one of the crafters of this law, has declared it a success because the intent was to have immigrants (legal and undocumented) voluntarily leave the state. And many have, leaving crops to rot in the fields and tornado ravaged communities left un-repaired. Catholic churches have been asked by their Diocese to document the loss of immigrant members. Catechism classes at one church in my town of Tuscaloosa have been reduced from 125 children before the law passed to 40 children after the law went into effect.
Governor Bentley, who signed this bill into law, announced the law is too complicated to enforce. He stated he is working behind the scenes with law enforcement and businesses to find ways to simplify the enforcement. Right now law enforcement is not consistent in routine traffic stops. Some police officers are asking only the driver for proof of status and some are asking every passenger in the vehicle. Businesses are closing because they are unable to renew their license with the state. International corporations are deciding to end negotiations of relocating firms to the state because of the stringent laws. Trailer park registrations are expiring and the owners are unable to renew because they are undocumented. Families are being torn apart. The law is not just complicated; it is devastating the health of communities on every level.
Here in Alabama, immigrant leaders and allies are organizing to make an all out push for repeal of this law. And we are doing this with the assistance of our national partners NDLON, Immigration Forum, and several others. For the past two weeks, these organizations and others have come to the state to assist the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ) in building its capacity for training immigrant leaders and allies in organizing a state wide movement with the goal to repeal and/or disable HB 56. Leaders within the immigrant community are being trained to teach know-your-rights sessions to their communities and to have protocols in place to protect their children from being placed into state custody should a parent be detained. Allies are being trained in community organizing techniques to teach immigration 101 in as many communities as possible. Together we are building our base to support repeal of this law and to press forward, asking the federal government to streamline and create a humane process for immigrants to achieve legal status.
No one here believes that even if this law is repealed that the crisis will be over. The damage of this law in spawning and propagating racism has already been done. Racism has always been present in Alabama. So what this law has also done is jump start again the discussion on race and racism in our state. It has galvanized and solidified a movement that might otherwise have continued to languish by bringing together communities, immigrants and allies, including Unitarian Universalists, to work not only on the repeal of this law but the core underlying issues of racism and hate. Love is indeed surging through our efforts to deal effectively with this crisis.
As has been the case in Arizona, Georgia, and other states where such laws have been enacted or Secure Communities has been enforced, Unitarian Universalists are active in building the movement towards repeal. They have been assisting in organizing rallies across the state, active in the work of ACIJ, and helping to organize communities to respond to this law. The immigrant leaders are mobilizing to re-educate communities on the contributions immigrants have offered in some regions of Alabama for the last several decades. Our communities are enriched when there is a diversity of people present.
The Rev. Lone Broussard of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham, a Danish-American, spoke with the Danish press to inform Denmark what is happening here. The eyes of the world are indeed focused on Alabama and what they are seeing are people coming together to Stand on the Side of Love.More >
I was speaking to one of the residents of Occupy Philadelphia last week, and he told me that we are living in “Pharaohnic times.” This phrase has stuck with me, and I think it’s deeply insightful. While not enslaved like the Israelites in Egypt, many populating the Occupy encampments around the globe, and those in sympathy with them, feel that they have no control over their lives. They feel trapped by and powerless in a society that keeps them impoverished and systematically oppressed. Those lucky enough to have jobs are working just to get by, with little hope for the future. Many people – those who have lost their homes or their jobs, and those who have never had either – are at real risk for their very survival. There is a pervasive sense of hopelessness, and a perception that no matter how hard they work, Pharaoh – in this case the gaping, ravenous maw of “Wall Street” – will never be satisfied. They are caught in a system whose heart has been hardened.
For years these modern-day Israelites waited for Moses to lead them out of this Egypt and into the land of milk and honey promised to them so many generations before. Four years ago they saw a man emerge from the rushes whom they thought might be their savior. He offered them the thing for which they yearned most deeply: Hope. And then their hope dissolved like so much morning mist, as their Moses encountered the harsh reality of Washington politics. God, apparently, had not invested him with the power to persuade Pharaoh to let his people go.
And so, the people were faced with a choice. Wait for a true savior to emerge, or save themselves. Wait for another Moses to call Pharaoh out, or take matters into their own hands. The cry of the people at Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Philadelphia and Occupy Oakland is the cry of Moses: “Let our people go!” They seek nothing less than the peaceful overthrow of the Pharaohnic system that holds them captive.
As a person of faith, I am called to side with the Israelites. To speak truth to power. To echo and amplify their cry for justice. To encourage them – to offer them courage – as they hold up a mirror to the callous society that enslaves us all with the enticement of easy credit and the illusion of prosperity just beyond our grasp. This ragtag army of activists camping out in public places across the country seeks an audience with Pharaoh, that his hardened heart might be changed. This is what draws me to Occupy week after week. I stand in support of the many Moses’s in our midst.More >