I have just returned from a Border Witness for Clergy and Seminarians with the UU College of Social Justice and Standing on the Side of Love. Together we heard the stories of migrants fleeing crushing poverty and violence to make the treacherous journey across the desert in search of safety and economic relief. We visited the makeshift graves of some of those who did not make it, including the site where a 16 year old was killed by border patrol in Mexico for allegedly throwing rocks that could never have reached his murderers. We witnessed the demeaning mass processing of Operation Streamline in a federal court as people chained together were brought before an immigration judge and sentenced to detention or dropped off on the other side of the border with no provisions or human support.
We also visited the Southside Presbyterian Church, a longtime sanctuary church with a workers center and strong social justice mission. Their spirit of organizing and resistance in the face of the inhumanity of our deportation system is inspiring. They will be participating in the #Not1More Deportation for a National Week of Action on the Anniversary of DAPA—November 15-21st and are encouraging us to do so as well. The timing could not be more critical given the ruling this week by the 5th Circuit Court that has once again put President Obama’s immigration initiative on hold.
One year ago, on November 20th, we thought we had finally made some significant progress in ending the mass detention and deportation machine. After sustained organizing and advocacy on the part of immigrant and faith communities, including Unitarian Universalists standing on the side of love, President Obama took Executive Action to pass DAPA - Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Permanent Legal Residents. DAPA would provide relief to millions of undocumented immigrants. Instead the Order has been tied up in the courts, and meanwhile ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) has been engaging in ever more aggressive enforcement. We are seeing that justice delayed is surely justice denied.
I’m asking that you join our partners at #Not1More Deportation for a National Week of Action on the Anniversary of DAPA—November 15-21st.
Immigrants must be able to live and work without fear in the communities they call home. Children should not have to worry that their parents will suddenly disappear. It is simply wrong to criminalize people just trying to survive. Given the current levels of anti-immigrant vitriol we are hearing during this electoral season it is especially urgent that we witness in support of migrant communities. You can check this map for actions in your area.
In addition to joining actions, #Not1More is asking our Standing on the Side of Love community to add actions to the map here. Please announce the Week of Action in your Congregational Bulletin or Sunday service on November 15th and if possible include a prayer or reading for migrant justice. You can find suggestions here. Consider showing a film during the week - we recommend the new Frontline program –Immigration Battle (you’ll see yellow “Love shirts” 30 minutes in at a civil disobedience action).
And, if you are already engaged in an activity for migrant justice that week, please frame it as part of the Week of Action and put it on the map too!
The week includes honoring National Transgender Day of Remembrance by organizing to free transgender detainees. As part of the National Week of Action, November 18th has been deemed the End Trans Detention National Day of Action. Just two days later, as you honor the National Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20th, lift up transgender detainees who make up 1 in 500 of the detention population but 1 in 5 of those who experience sexual abuse.
#Not1More states that the Week of Action is intended to “lift up the excluded and criminalized, shut down the abusive detention system, and move our movement forward. ICE is still in the streets, it’s time we get back in them as well.”
Let’s join them as communities of resistance and demonstrate that we are not backing down in our efforts to stop the criminalization of migrant communities. Together we stand on the side of love!
The Rev. Don Southworth
Executive Director, Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association
P.S. Click here to see images from our time on the U.S-Mexico Border.