The following message came through from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, comprised of 130+ religious institutions, service agencies, community organizations, unions, and chambers of commerce that believe that we are One Nation, One Dream:
This afternoon the Illinois Senate passed the Illinois DREAM Act, SB 2185, by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote of 45 to 11! The bill creates an “Illinois DREAM Commission” appointed by the Governor, which will raise a privately financed scholarship fund for undocumented immigrant students; allow Illinois undocumented families to participate in the state’s college savings programs; and requires high school counselors to learn about the higher education options open to immigrant students in Illinois, including in-state tuition that passed in Illinois in 2003.
In addition Illinois Governor Quinn sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security withdrawing from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Secure Communities program. The letter states that the stated purpose of the Secure Communities program is the deportation of immigrants “convicted of serious criminal offenses.” The letter further states, “by ICE’s own measure, less than 20% of those who have been deported from Illinois under the program have ever been convicted of a serious crime.”
Illinois proves that it is a state with a big heart that wants serious immigration solutions, and does not support the cruel destruction of families through pointless deportations.
Protests against Arizona-style, anti-immigrant legislation led the Florida Senate to pass a highly watered-down version of what had previously passed the House. Now, 2/3 of House members must agree to bring the Senate version up for a vote.
With the alliance of Democrats, who seem universally opposed, and Hispanic Republicans who are uncomfortable with the language, it remains unlikely to pass.
The sponsor of the SB1070-eque House bill has declared the issue ‘dead’ for this legislative session, which ends Friday.
Kudos to Florida UU Ministers who organized their faith colleagues to speak up against the inhumane proposals of attrition.
Si Se Puede!More >
Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, drafted a statement of conscience regarding the bills. He and Kindra Muntz of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Florida urged interfaith colleagues to join them in signing on and delivering it to state legislators. More than 30 clergy statewide from diverse denominations have signed on. The text of the letter is below.
Today is a day of urgency for Floridians who are standing on the side of love with immigrant families. Said Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, ”These immoral and costly bills are being strengthened on the Senate floor today. Immigrant families have been holding constant presence, so much so that they are now being threatened by Tea Party activists who have called immigration not just on the families but on legislators who listen to them.”
FLORIDIANS: PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATOR TODAY TO OPPOSE THE DRACONIAN ARIZONA-STYLE ANTI-IMMIGRATION BILL SB2040. You can find your senator’s phone number at www.flsenate.gov.
Calls to Senators are needed ASAP, as are people in Tallahassee to stand with the immigrant families. Your presence would give them strength and courage, and you will find the experience educational and inspiring. Join them! Call Kathy Bird for help coordinating your trip at 786-210-9030.
As religious leaders of diverse faith traditions across Florida, we unite our voices to call on our Legislature for a gracious and compassionate tone in our state’s immigration debate. We encourage lawmakers to focus on healing Florida communities and promoting the rights and inherent worth of every person.
Our diverse faith traditions challenge us to welcome the stranger among us with love and compassion and to practice hospitality towards all people, regardless of their place of birth. Since the enforcement of our laws impacts the human dignity and human rights of the person, it is incumbent upon faith communities to promote the humane treatment of newcomers and to call attention to practices and proposed laws which may lead to their abuse and suffering.
Because we value family unity, justice, equity, compassion, love, and the humane treatment of all persons, we dedicate ourselves, in our teaching and our witness, to calling for immigration reform. It is our collective prayer that Congress and our state legislature enact just immigration reform based on these tenets.
We understand that the people of Florida are frustrated. What we have is a flawed and broken system in need of some serious overhaul. Political leaders in Washington seem to lack the will or the vision to come up with a more just and humane immigration policy. But the solution to ineffective partisan posturing isn’t to pass bills like SB 2040 and HB 7089 that will merely create a host of serious problems that should concern us all.
We recognize and support the right of the United States to protect and secure our border and enforce our immigration laws. We support the work of lawmakers and law enforcement officials in protecting all people in Florida. However, when working to maintain and improve public safety, our Florida Legislators should be cautious when considering policies that could detract from safety and risk the inadvertent deprivation of the civil and constitutional rights of citizens and lawful permanent residents.
As policymakers and leaders, Florida legislators have the opportunity and responsibility to guide our whole community into a future of compassion, hope, and mutual respect. By affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every person, including those who migrate, lawmakers can help the people of Florida move from fear to respect.
We urge Florida legislators to reject policies that could encourage discrimination, compromise local law enforcement, or scapegoat immigrants.
Let’s work to fix our nation’s broken immigration system, respect the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and stand on the side of love with immigrant families in our communities.
Reverend Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, FL
The Reverend Kenneth Gordon Hurto, Unitarian Universalist Minister, Executive of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Florida District, Orlando, FL
The Reverend Russell L. Meyer, Executive Director, Florida Council of Churches, Tampa, FL
Rabbi David Weizman and Rabbi Danielle Upbin-Weizman, Congregation Beth Shalom, Clearwater, FL
Reverend Susan Sherwood, Pastor, Good Samaritan Church (Presbyterian/United Church of Christ), Pinellas Park, FL
Reverend Leddy Hammock, Senior Minister, Unity Church of Clearwater, FL
Reverend Dr. Robert Palin, Interim Minister, Faith United Church of Christ, Clearwater, FL
Reverend Gladys McCurtain, Minister, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Clearwater, FL
Reverend Renwick J. Bell, Pastor, Church of Our Savior, MCC, Boynton Beach, FL
Chaplain Wilfredo Amir Ruiz, Esq., Executive Director, American Muslims for Emergency and Relief
Jeannette Smith, Quaker Peace Center, Miami, FL
Reverend Meredith Garmon, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, FL
Reverend Gail Tapscott, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Secretary, South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice
Reverend Robin Gray, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahassee
Reverend Dr. Sara Zimmerman, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Tampa, FL
Reverend Scott W. Alexander, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Vero Beach, FL
Reverend Ronald A. Hersom, Settled Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville, FL
Reverend Dr. Marni Harmony, Consulting Minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Lakeland, FL
Reverend Allison W. Farnum, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Myers, FL
Rev. Jan E. Taddeo, Consulting Minister, UU Fellowship of Marion County, FL
Project Coordinator, Florida District Racial Justice Council
Shireen Chada, Administrator, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization, Tampa, FL
Jack Romberg, Rabbi, Temple Israel, Tallahassee, FL
Rev. Phyllis Hunt, Senior Minister, Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa, FL
Aziz Merchant, Islamic Community Center, Oldsmar, FL
Father Richard G. Mullen, O.S.A., The Little Flower Catholic Church, Hollywood, FL
Fr. John Cox, OMI Pastor, Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, Miami, FL
Frank J. Corbishley, Chaplain, Episcopal Church Center, Coral Gables, FL.
Rev. Doug McMahon, Director of Campus Ministries, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL
Rev. Lilly Shannon, Associate Chaplain, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL
“We’re New Yorkers, and after 61 years of togetherness, we feel we have a right to be married in New York.”
The push for marriage equality in New York State is moving full steam ahead, with Governor Cuomo, business leaders, national and local LGBT civil rights groups, and allied organizations like the League of Women Voters advocating for a positive vote in the State Senate in the coming months.
Today, Freedom to Marry released a touching video of John and Richard, a couple for 61 years, who want to marry in New York. Watch it, and learn more about how you can help by visiting Freedom to Marry at www.freedomtomarry.org.More >
Ministries and Faith Development at the UUA is pleased and proud to announce the publication of
Resistance and Transformation: Unitarian Universalist Social Justice History by Rev. Colin Bossen and Rev. Julia Hamilton.
Sixteen 90-minute workshops explore social justice themes through historical stories and primary source material, then invite participants to reflect on that theme in Unitarian Universalism today. Since even “failures” in our history can be instructive, the program presents our ongoing struggle to live up to Unitarian Universalism’s ever-evolving ideals of social transformation. Themes include abolition, peace-making, civil rights, free speech, utopianism, counter-culture, women’s movements, sexuality education, and GLBT equality. This program is suitable for older youth as well as adults.
To find out more or to apply to be a field-test congregation, please contact the Resource Development Office of the Ministries and Faith Development staff group at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Alicia LeBlanc at 617-948-4371.More >