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5 things your congregation can do to support immigrant justice

Immigration is about more than the cerebral aspects of policy, laws, and trade; immigration includes relationships, communities, and questions of morality and dignity. To fully delve into and enable a deep listening for truth, one has to get out of the classroom and committee meeting and into the world.

AFSC Friends Relations, in an effort to create a more substantial level of engagement between Friends and AFSC, is piloting a program called Quaker Social Change Ministry to support and facilitate Spirit-led, social justice work in Quaker meetings/churches. This program is based on the work of Kelly Dignan, Kierstin Homblette, and Deborah Holder, three Unitarian Ministers in the Denver area who created this model to support congregations doing powerful social change ministry.

Please fill out an interest form to learn more about the program.

1.  Learn about immigration

Spend some time with your community learning more about the history of immigration in the United States.  Immigration legislation can be complex; find resources to help you decode its legalistic language and learn more about how to make change. 

- Use the "Who is my neighbor?" curriculum and accompanying video in your adult education classes.

- Hold a viewing of "The Undocumented" with your community, or any other number of films on the struggles of immigrants in the United States.

- Start a book group focused on books related to immigration and the stories of immigrants.

- Host a learning fast by calling people together to fast for a whole day, while learning about the origins of the food they would have eaten.

- Listen to Jennifer Piper, Program Director for Interfaith Organizing in AFSC's Denver Office, discuss the model of accompaniment, what faith communities bring to immigrant justice work, and the importance of lifting up the voices and leadership of immigrant communities. To listen to the full recording of this Call for Spirited Action, click here.

2.  Connect with the immigrant community

In order to understand how to be an effective ally in the struggle for immigrant justice, it is important to connect with immigrant communities and find out how you can best support their existing efforts.

- Find out what immigrant led organizations are doing and support their work.

- Show up at immigrant led events. Learn from immigrants and put your faith into action!

- Talk with organizations to find out if there are holes in services or funding for the immigrant community.

- Make breakfast for day laborers.

3.  Help those in detention

Thousands of immigrants have been separated from their families and detained in private, for-profit detention centers, and the number keeps growing.  Help those who are in detention and oppose the for-profit industry that benefits from this inhumane treatment of immigrants in the United States.

- Hold a vigil raising awareness of detention and deportation.

- Organize a community wide book drive for people detained in an immigration detention center.

- Gather the names each week of detainees across the state and pray for them and their families as well as for our society and government.

- Start a detention visitation group to and talk with people being held at the detention center or in local jails on immigration holds.

 4.  Visit the border

The U.S./Mexico border is a region in need of prayerful action and attention.  Thousands of migrants lose their lives every year making the journey to the U.S., and the region is becoming increasingly militarized.  Join with your congregation to bring a message of peace to the region.

- Learn about issues surrounding immigration over the U.S./Mexico border with your meeting/church community.

- Organize a trip to volunteer and visit the border region.

- Join the Derechos Humanos for the 75-mile journey from Sasabe, Sonora to Tuscon, Arizona in solidarity with migrants who have lost their lives.

5.  Advocate for humane reform

Join in the immigration debate as policy makers shape a bill to reform our current system and make the case for humane immigration policy that respects the rights of all people.

- Write a Letter to the Editor and pay attention to how the media portrays immigrants.

- Engage educators on immigration and share resources for young people.

- Plan or attend town hall meetings; ask your faith leaders to speak about the moral imperative of welcoming the stranger.

- Develop relationships with your policy makers and make legislative visits to communicate your convictions.

For more:

- Download more resources for you and your congregation.

- Listen to an audio recording that outlines the Meeting/Church liaison program's work around immigration.

These resources were drawn from work out of AFSC's Denver Office.