UULMNJ ACTION LIST: STANDING IN SOLIDARITY WITH IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES
This document lists a variety of specific actions that congregations can organize to work on becoming Sanctuary/Fair and Welcoming Congregations. It is not exhaustive, and congregations may develop their own adaptations of activities such as these. The challenge, though, is for each and every UU congregation in New Jersey to examine possible actions toward a fair and welcoming status and agree to follow through on at least three specific actions from the list below. The actions are listed in italics for clarity.
UULMNJ and the Immigration Task Force will develop a way to publicly recognize the congregations that carry out at least three tasks to stand up for immigrant rights. Let’s set the goal of getting 100% of New Jersey’s Unitarian Universalist congregations to be Sanctuary/Fair and Welcoming by the October 21 2017 UULMNJ Issues Conference in Lincroft, NJ!
ADVOCATE FAIR AND WELCOMING POLICIES
- Start locally: in the towns, cities and counties from which your congregation draws
- Branch out to state and federal policies once you have thoroughly explored local options
Most likely in the short term this advocacy would be by protest if current policies are weakened or current protections removed.
- Identifying and joining local/regional coalitions of immigrant advocacy, faith groups, progressive groups organizing around immigration rights
- Signing relevant petitions, letters and emails
- Learning about and joining marches, rallies, and press conferences
MAKE OUR CONGREGATIONS FAIR AND WELCOMING/SANCTUARY PLACES
- If possible, offer physical housing for person(s) in immediate need of sanctuary (this usually requires having bathing/showering facilities for longer term stays)
- Support other congregations, of whatever faith, which are able to offer physical sanctuary
Opportunities for supporting a sanctuary congregation are many. Here are some:
- Assist with direct services, such as food and living supplies
- Provide volunteers to be at house of worship should the undocumented person have a need or should ICE or other law enforcement arrive
- Provide rides or other support to family members;
- Funding support.
COLLABORATE WITH COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS OR IMMIGRANT GROUPS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS
- Identify local organization or group and make contact, expressing a desire for collaboration.
- Join in social occasions, shared meals, or group activities
- Explore with community organization members how allies can help, listening for what they need and being responsive rather than taking the lead. Recognize they are the experts; learn what it means to be an ally
STANDING IN SOLIDARITY AT TIMES OF ACTIVE THREAT
- Form a Rapid Response Team in your congregation/in partnership with other willing allies. This requires being present with vulnerable individuals at times of potential raids
- Send messages of hope and faith to immigrant communities
- Join or create communications mechanisms and networks (hotline, phone trees) so that faith networks are ready to respond quickly
- Watch social media outlets, especially of local immigrant organizations or of key hashtags such as #ICE[insert city] or #MigraWatch
- Create or join rotation of volunteers to assure that someone is available
- During a raid, gather as a group at a distance, with banners and signs
- If offering public witness, do the legal research about what bystanders can do: recording license plates of vehicles, names and badge numbers of personnel, using phone to record incident, etc.
- Immediately after an incident, help people involved as appropriate, and hold interfaith vigil.
RECRUIT PRO BONO ATTORNEYS FOR KIND (KIDS IN NEED OF DEFENSE)
- Learn about the kind of work KIND is doing to mentor and sometimes accompany minors to immigration and family court.
- Contact NJ KIND director, Carrey Wong, to join the KIND NJ network Infonewark@supportkind.org or Carrey Wong, Supervising Attorney for Pro Bono Programs, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Begin advertising and recruiting for retired or current lawyers, paralegals, judges in your congregation to serve as mentors to undocumented minors
RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT FAIR AND WELCOMING POLICIES TOWARD IMMIGRANTS UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST LEGISLATIVE MINISTRY OF NEW JERSEY (April 2017)
Whereas our Unitarian Universalist principles include a respect for the worth and dignity of every human being, as well as justice and compassion in human relations and the goal of building a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
and Whereas our Unitarian Universalist sources include “words and deeds of prophetic men and women which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;”
AND Whereas in 2013 the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly approved a Statement of Conscience, Immigration as a Moral Issue, that “compels us to affirm that all immigrants, regardless of legal status, should be treated justly and humanely;”
And whereas that statement lists certain minimum standards for a such a moral immigration policy, including a path to legal residency and citizenship, improved work visas, equal access to medical care and education, due process including legal representation, and more;
AND Whereas in 2014 undocumented immigrants made up almost 6% of New Jersey’s population and the new federal immigration law-enforcement policies have increased the level of fear in these communities;
AND Acknowledging that all residents of these United States—except for those who are members of indigenous tribal nations or who are descended from persons who were brought here in slavery—are themselves immigrants or descended from immigrants, not all of whom necessarily followed the letter of the law when they arrived;
AND WHEREAS our intention is to ensure that New Jersey is and remains a Sanctuary/fair and welcoming state, at least within our Unitarian Universalist communities;
NOW therefore be it resolved, that, with that intention as our goal, each and every UU congregation, fellowship, and society in New Jersey has taken or is preparing to take some action to support our immigrant neighbors, including one or more of the following actions:
- We will enter into partnership or collaboration with a community group of immigrants and their friends and neighbors.
- We will assist the sanctuary movement, whether a congregation itself serves as a sanctuary for persons who would otherwise be deported, assists a religious organization of any faith that is serving as a sanctuary, or acts in any other appropriate manner in solidarity with our neighbors.
- We will be active in efforts to improve our nation’s immigration policies, which surely need to be reformed to embody a more humane and caring approach to our neighbors.
- We will be ready to provide assistance whenever possible to those who fear oppression due to their immigration status, recognizing that we are in a changing environment in which enforcement policies and activities are changing unpredictably, while we wish to hold up a steady and reliable moral principle.
YUUR Voice TV
An original educational series by the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of NJ
- Do you want to get involved in your congregation’s UULMNJ activities but need more information?
- Are you on a UULMNJ task force and want to take it to the next level?
- Does your social justice or senior youth group want to hold an educational viewing and discussion?
Episode 1: UULMNJ Executive Director, Rev. Craig Hirshberg, sits down with local experts to discuss New Jersey’s affordable housing crisis. Hear from Rev. Eric Dobson, co-founder of Open Communities and founder of Planting Seeds of Hope, and Joyce Campbell, Associate Executive Director for External Affairs for Catholic Charities of New Jersey and Vice Chair of Anti Poverty Network of New Jersey.
The New Jim Crow
Episode 2: Rev. Craig, moderates a discussion on mass incarceration in an age of color blindness. Hear from Alexander Shalom, Senior Staff Attorney at American Civil Liberties Union of NJ; Rosanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance; and Al Stawsky, UULMNJ Ending the New Jim Crow Task Force Chair.
Episode 3: What is climate change? Why should we be concerned about it? Rev. Craig facilitates this conversation with Jim Walsh, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director at Food and Water Watch; Jeff Tittel, Director of the NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club; Rohn Hein, attorney and chair of the UULMNJ Environmental Protection Task Force.
Episode 4: UULMNJ Immigration Task Force Chair, Ted Fetter, sits down with local experts to discuss immigration detention. Hear from Bill Westerman, co-founder of First Friends; Sally Pallay, Program Director at First Friends of NY/NJ; and former detainee, Papa Faye.
Faces of the Undocumented
Episode 5: We welcome back Ted Fetter who gets to know the undocumented immigrant with Stuart Sydenstricker, founding Board member of Wind of the Spirit and Ana Bonilla-Martinez, Mexican immigrant with youthful status and current Wind of the Spirit Board member.