Our mission statement calls us to educate, raise awareness, and engage in efforts aimed at changing immigration policies. We partner with other UU congregations, and other interfaith and civic engagement groups in the community. As the national debate on immigration reform continues, we believe it is crucial to be leaders in this debate, in the context of living our UU values.
The IJWG meets monthly to plan activities and stay informed on immigration-related issues. We meet at the church on the fourth Tuesday, from 6:30-8:30 pm in the Meditation Room. All are welcome to attend. We also host an information table in the Social Hall on Sunday mornings. The IJWG is actively involved in various immigration-related activities. These include:
- Participating in the monthly Interfaith Prayer Vigil at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, where undocumented immigrants are held while awaiting deportation hearings. These vigils are held on first Saturdays, from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon, at 5555 Giant Highway in Richmond.
- Volunteering at DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) workshops to assist young Dreamers apply for deferred action from deportation, allowing them to obtain work permits and drivers licenses.
- Partnering with CCISCO (Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization) on their Campaign for Citizenship for undocumented immigrants, as a step toward compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform.
For more information about the IJWG, please contact Natalie DaSilva.
Immigration advocates have recently learned of problems caused by a sudden large increase in the number of ICE detainees at West County Detention Facility in Richmond – now up to more than 300. Apparently, many of these recent detainees are immigrants who came across the southern border seeking asylum from persecution at home.
Because they are seeking asylum, many of these detainees are eligible to be released on bond or even on their own recognizance. The problem is that ICE releases them in the middle of the night at West County Detention Facility with no money, no cell phone, etc. Their families are often located far away in other parts of the country, and they have no way to contact them. In addition, their possessions are stored at ICE local headquarters in San Francisco, which is only open certain hours.
Those of you who were at Justice GA in Phoenix in 2012 may remember being sung to, and singing, on the way to the buses taking us to the candlelight vigil outside Sheriff Joe Arpaio's shameful "Tent City." The hymn was Pat Humphries' "Keep on Moving Forward (Never Turning Back).”
Those of us committed to more just, compassionate, and humane immigration policies will indeed keep on moving forward in 2014. The Immigration Justice Working Group (IJWG) will continue its efforts.
A tragic milestone is being reached, as the number of undocumented immigrants deported under the Obama Administration reaches 2 million. In Washington State, undocumented detainees in a for-profit detention facility recently began a hunger strike to demand that their most basic needs be met. Closer to home, 17 families have been impacted by the firing of recycling workers in San Leandro following an immigration audit. These families are in dire need, struggling to pay their bills and remain in their homes. Families like that of Alfonzo and Divina and their three children. Alfonzo was one of the most senior recycling workers fired.
On Sunday, February 9, the congregation voted unanimously to enter into a formal affiliation with CCISCO (Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization). We are joining some 20 congregations throughout the County that are CCISCO members.
The vote came after an organizing campaign that was carried out over the past few months by a core team of congregational leaders. Members of UUCB have become involved in a number of CCISCO’s faith-based projects, including:
Social Justice at UUCB, Congregation Study/Action Issues (CSAIs)
The UUCB congregation voted on January 19, Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday, expressing their level of support for six different social justice issues. A complete ballot count of the 126 people who participated in the voting process revealed the following results: Escalating Inequality received the most support with 106 votes, Gun Violence received 89 votes, Renewing and Securing Our American Democracy received 68 votes, UU Values and the Pursuit of a Just Peace for Israelis and Palestinians received 54 votes, Empowerment: Age and Ability Reconsidered received 52 votes, and, Ending the War on Terror received the least support with 49 votes.
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County Jail Phones - Update
On August 12, several of us attended a hearing of the Contra Costa agency that is looking into the high cost of phone calls for inmates and detainees at the West County Detention Facility. Under the current contract with GlobalTel, which is currently up for renewal, phone calls cost $4 to $6 per minute. The sheriff's department justifies this by saying that the half a million dollars that is kicked back to the department annually funds inmate programs.
Farm Worker Reality Tour
FARM WORKER REALITY TOUR
Strawberry Harvesting Demonstration & FW Life Story Followed by Dialogue, Testimonials, & Dinner with Farmworkers at Migrant Labor Camp in Watsonville
Sunday, July 21, 2013: 3 - 9 PM
Limited to the first 25 who register. Children with parents welcome. The first 25 persons to register (pay) will be able to attend.
$30 per Person – Check Payable to “Human Agenda”. Send to Human
Agenda Treasurer, 2175 The Alameda, Suite 103, San Jose, CA 95126.
Proceeds go primarily to farm worker families hosting the tour.
At 3:00 PM in the surface parking lot at SJCC at the corner of Moorpark and Leigh Avenues. We will carpool to Watsonville.
Jeans, T-shirts, etc. (nothing flashy or ostentatious).
Dr. Ann Lopez, Professor and Author, The Farmworkers’ Journey
Richard Hobbs, Immigration Attorney & Executive Director, Human Agenda
Contact Cesar Juarez at [email protected] or 408-421-2895
Description: This tour will challenge participants to better understand the conditions of Mexican farmworkers in Northern California. We will drive to the Crystal Bay Farms Strawberry Field where Cristina Lazcano will talk about her life and jobs as strawberry picker and mother of seven. She will demonstrate how to harvest strawberries after which participants will have the opportunity to pick and purchase strawberries. Then we will drive to the Buena Vista Migrant Labor Camp near Watsonville where farmworkers will show their living quarters and give testimonies on their wages, working conditions, use of pesticides, and challenges their children have in receiving education. A farmworker meal is included in the cost. The tour leaders will share recent information on farmworkers including demographics, how globalization propels immigration, S.744 and the prospects for passing immigration reform, and the conditions of farmworkers on both sides of the border. For those who wish, Ann Lopez will sign copies of her book, The Farmworkers’ Journey, at the discounted rate of $15.
Campaign for Citizenship
Keep Our Families United!
Community Forums with Congressmen George Miller
Richmond and Concord - On June 8th, faith leaders from Contra Costa County will engage U.S. Congressman George Miller about the immigration reform bill currently making its way through Congress in two separate community forums. Join with DREAM Act students and other community leaders to discuss with congressman Millers office what a fair, inclusive and direct roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans would look like.
These community forums will give local clergy and members from several local congregations the opportunity to offer testimony and encourage Congressman Miller to publicly support a fair and direct path to citizenship. Faith leaders from the Contra Costa will speak about key milestones they would like to see on the path to citizenship including the ability to apply for protected status, family reunification, the ability for those who have reached the appropriate status to work, drive and travel, and for the application costs to be affordable to people of all incomes.
Saturday, June 8th
1st Forum - 9:00am - St. Marks Church
159 Harbour Way, Richmond
2nd Forum - 11:30am - Queen of All Saints Church
2390 Grant St., Concord
For more information, please contact Natalie DaSilva
Foro Comunitario con representante George Miller
Richmond y Concord - El día Sábado, 8 de Junio, lideres religiosos del condado de Contra Costa estarán con el Congresista George Miller en dos eventos presentando lo que esta pasando actualmente con lo que el senado planteo acerca de la Reforma Inmigratoria. Acompáñanos con los sonadores y otros lideres comunitarios para debatir con el Congresista Miller como un camino justo, incluyente y directo a la ciudadanía para los 11 millones de inmigrantes indocumentados puede ser posible.
Estos foros comunitarios le darán la oportunidad al clero y lideres de diversas congregaciones locales la oportunidad de dar su testimonio y comprometer al congresista Miller para que públicamente apoye un camino justo y directo para la ciudadanía. Lideres religiosos del condado de Contra Costa hablaran de los puntos claves que quisieran ver en una reforma inmigratoria incluyendo la habilidad de aplicar por un estatus de protección, la reunificación de las familias, la habilidad de tener un estatus apropiado para trabajar, manejar y viajar, y que la aplicación tenga un costo asequible para las personas de todos los ingresos.
Sábado, 8 de junio
1er Foro - 9:30am - Iglesia de San Marcos
159 Harbour Way, Richmond
2nd Foro- 11:30am - Iglesia la Reina de Todos los Santos,
2390 Grant St., Concord
Para información en español contacto Claudia Jimenez - 510-414-9025
Our Southern Border
I recently traveled to Tucson to see for myself what goes on along the border or the United States and Mexico. I spoke with people from both sides of the border: Mexican citizens, American citizens, migrants, deportees, dreamers. Some spoke English, some spoke Spanish, but everyone wanted a chance to make a better life for themselves and their families.
I spoke with migrants who were about to make the trip from Mexico to the United States in search of a better life. They understood that they were risking their life in the journey across the harsh desert, that they were at the mercy of the “coyote” guide who was escorting them, and that they probably would be caught by the US Border Patrol and deported. Still they are going, and will go again, and again, because they are desperately seeking a better life. As one migrant succinctly said: “It's very simple. You need workers, and we need work.”
I also spoke to three dreamers (Dario, Anna, and Jessica) who came to the United States on tourist visas before they were old enough to attend elementary school. They worked hard at school and earned very good grades. Their dream was and is to attend college, get a good job, and make a life for themselves here. But, because their tourist visa has expired, in Arizona they are not allowed to receive public scholarships because they are undocumented. They have to find other funding, and have established an organization called Scholarships A-Z to help dreamers find scholarships. After hearing their stories, I want to help dreamers find the means to attend college. It's very simple. We need educated people for our future, and Anna, Dario and Jessica need citizenship and a good job for their future.