When it happens in your own neighborhood, you cannot ignore it; you cannot turn your back.
When I learned of a local undocumented day laborer named Hector who had been arrested after being falsely accused of assault by the man that hired him, I knew we had to act. Hector and his wife and three-year old daughter are residents of Canoga Park, the tiny community which is also home to my congregation, Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church.
We called NDLON and asked how we could help. In addition to the petition demanding that Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) drop its immigration hold on Hector and donating to his legal fund, we helped mobilize UUs to participate in a press conference which was held on Valentine’s Day. What a perfect way to celebrate the holiday: standing on the side of love with immigrant families.
We also reached out to the UU Legislative Ministry of California. As part of their Immigrant Justice Team, we are helping to link congregations with local immigrant justice allies and coordinating actions to advance compassionate immigration reform.
I proudly represented our UU contingent at the Valentine’s Day press conference as one of the speakers, here is what I said:
“We Unitarian Universalists are here today to stand on the side of love with Hector and his family, with day laborers across the country and with the more than 11 million immigrants in our country to say, ‘Not one more.’
Not one more unnecessary, indefinite detention, not one more deportation that rips families apart, no more injustice for our immigrant communities.
UU’s have had a long history of commitment to immigration justice since 1963 and Emerson UU church right here in the valley has also long supported immigrants’ rights since housing a family in the first sanctuary movement, supporting farm workers’ rights and the grape boycott in the 70′s, and supporting an immigrant family throughout the second sanctuary movement.
And our commitment continues today with the fight for immigration reform that is not merely comprehensive, but also compassionate. Immigration reform, which keeps families together, restores human values to immigration law, and supports an affordable, confidential and generous path to citizenship.
It starts with Hector. Hector’s story is part of a pattern of abuse of day laborers. Workers who stand up for their rights should be protected, not punished. ICE needs to take action to prevent employers from retaliating against workers based on immigration status. This can start by lifting Hector’s ICE hold
Our Unitarian Universalist faith promotes the inherent worth and dignity of every person and justice equity and compassion. As people of faith, we believe immigration is a moral issue and we must come together as a nation to take care of ALL of our people.
At Emerson church, we begin our service by reciting our covenant which declares, ‘Love is the spirit of this church’ — ‘La doctrina de este Iglesia es amor.’ Let us turn that love into to action. We are all part of this community and we work together for this country. Todos somos parte de esta communidad y trabajamos juntos para este pais.”
You can help Hector by signing the petition to drop the ICE hold. Click here to take action.
This post was written by Sara LaWall, Ministerial Intern at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in Canoga Park, California.