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Immigration Reform

November 2014: Update from Tyler Connoley

After three months of groundwork, it feels like things are coming together. Some projects are still ongoing, but had significant turning points.

  • First Albuquerque Moves forward on Sanctuary
    I've been very involved (along with Noel Anderson) in the conversations at First Albuquerque, and it's been a long process of educating them about Sanctuary. Their council voted to move forward with Sanctuary, and call for a congressional vote at their annual meeting in January. This has led to some difficult conversations with some of their members, so I've been supporting the pastor and council as they move into this next phase. I don't know if they'll become a Sanctuary Church, but I know the realm of God is growing because of their work on this.

  • Massachusetts Supports Southwest Organizations
    I've been working with the Massachusetts Immigration Task Force to help them find some organizations they can connect with to offer tangible support. They chose Refugio Phoenix, a foster program for unaccompanied minors, and First Congregational Phoeinix's legal clinic, called Keep Phoenix Together. Massachusetts sent a letter to all their churches this week, and are collecting through the end of January.

  • Minnesota Immersion Trip
    The Minnesota Immigration Task Force is planning a trip to El Paso in January. The delegation will include several clergy and their Conference Minister. We finalized those plans the week of November 19th.

  • Connecting La Roca with the Guemes Island Community
    A retired pastor from Guemes Island, in Washington state, contacted me a while back, asking how his community could support something happening in the Southwest. On November 20th, I visited a shelter in Nogales Mexico called La Roca that serves migrants from Central America, and it looks like the folks in Guemes Island are going to partner with that project for ongoing financial and moral support.

  • Volunteer Placed at Casas Adobes
    Mary Schaller Blaufuss and I have been working to find placements for two volunteers who want to spend three months in the Southwest. After much back-and-forth, it looks like we're going to place one of them at Casas Adobes in Tucson, so she can support the work they're doing in Nogales with HEPAC. The other volunteer is very close to being placed, as well.

  • Help for Maria
    This was a small project that only took a day, but I think it was made possible by all the prep work I've done for the past three months. I also think it will bear more fruit in the future, because of a connection I made with Brookmeade Congregational in Nashville. Maria was a migrant who came through Yuma, and moved on to Nashville. Pastor Alberta called me, because Maria had contacted her and needed some help getting to a court hearing on November 19th. After a little research, I was able to connect Maria with Brookmeade, a UCC church in Nashville that has an immigration lawyer and a retired immigration social worker as members. This church has not been on our radar before now, so I'm looking forward to connecting them with the Immigrant Welcoming Network.

  • Immigrant Welcoming Network
    I've been working on an idea for how to build this network within the UCC, and am at a place where I will be making a concrete proposal for moving forward with this important task.

  • Shadow Rock UCC takes Sanctuary Case
    I was only tangentially involved in this case, but was excited to see it come together. Unfortunately, Misael, the man in Sanctuary, is not eligible for deferred action under the President's executive order, so this will require some ongoing advocacy and support from our churches.

The Rev. Tyler Connoley
UCC Southwest Conference Immigrant Care Coordinator

END STREAMLINE Focus on Tucson, Arizona
By Sue Lefebvre

"Sixty-two men and women were sitting in the courtroom when we entered. The first thing I noticed was the metallic sound of chains rattling as they shifted in their seats. They were handcuffed, the handcuffs tightly bound to a chain around their waists, their feet shackled with chains as well. The fifteen women sat on a bench at the front of the court, separated from the men. All the people were dressed in the same clothes in which they had crossed the desert and in which they had spent one to five days in detention. It was clear they had not been given a chance to bathe, wash their faces or even their hands. Many were limping when they walked. All of them looked exhausted and many seemed confused, sad, and ashamed. A number slumped in their chairs without looking around. A few looked back at us and tried to smile."
Christa Sadler, Flagstaff No More Deaths

In 2004 the North American Free Trade Agreement was passed in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Under this agreement, The United States was allowed to continue subsidizing corn, while Mexico was not. As a result billions of tons of excess corn from the U.S. was shipped to Mexico undermining sales of their now more expensive crop. Within one year over 1 million Mexican farmers lost their farms and began searching for a new way to make a living. Many of them fled north to the U.S.(1) Since that time other factors have increased the flow of migrants to the U.S. including a major hurricane in 2005 and the growing presence and menace of the drug cartels up until the current day.

In 2005 a program was devised (using existing laws, policies and procedures) to take all the illegal crossers into federal court and put them through a process they called “Operation Streamline” (called something different in some Texas venues). According to a fact sheet put out by the ACLU and the National Immigration Forum in July, 2009 ...

Select this link to read the rest of this article

SWC Announces New Position: Immigrant Care Coordinator
Aug. 11, 2014
Tyler ConnoleyWith the recent press regarding women and children refugees at the border, American awareness of immigrant needs has exploded. While some have responded with anger and fear, UCC churches around the country have responded to God's call to welcome the stranger, and have added or stepped-up ministries to immigrants. They have been contacting our conference offices and local churches, asking how they can help. At the same time, our SWC churches have found themselves on the forefront of responding to a growing sense of urgency for caring for immigrants.
Recognizing our unique position within the United States and the leadership our churches have already demonstrated in this area, Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries, offered us a grant to create an Immigrant Care Coordinator position within the Southwest Conference. The Rev. Tyler Connoley, pastor of Silver City UCC, has agreed to take on the task.
Initially, Tyler will be contacting each of our local churches to find out what you are currently doing to help immigrants, and where you can use support. He will also build bridges with organizations within and beyond the UCC who are working with immigrants, and will be the main contact for churches around the country who want information about how they can best help.
Expect a contact from Tyler within the next few weeks, and feel free to contact him at tconnoley@uccswc.org. We are thrilled to have him ministering in this new capacity.

News / Take Action
Neighborhood Ministries/Refugio Phoenix
Information from the Meeting on July 29, 2014: overall plan, foster families, process, responsibilities, etc.
Neighborhood Ministries/Refugio Phoenix [PDF]
Refugio Phoenix FAQ's [PDF]

More than 100 religious, immigration activists arrested at White House
Washington Post
July 31, 2014
WASHINGTON — More than 100 religious leaders and activists were arrested Thursday (July 31) in a White House protest aimed at halting deportations and aiding immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
The direct action sponsored by Church World Service and Casa de Maryland, an immigration advocacy group, brought leaders from New England to Hawaii to the nation’s capital.
Select this link to read the rest of the article and watch a video

Update on Immigration Justice in the Southwest Conference
July 2014
I want to take a few moments and report to you about what is happening regarding Immigration Justice in, around, with, and through the Southwest Conference. I am not sure where to begin, so much is happening so fast. Select this link to read the rest of his article

Migrant Crisis: Truths and Myths
July 22, 2014
This excellent article responds to some common misconceptions about migrant children: who they are, why they came, and what's being done.
Debunking myths about migrant children at Ft. Sill

Central American Children Seeking Safe Refuge
Church World ServicesJuly 21, 2014
Below are two sets of talking points and message guides from various groups surrounding the arrival of children fleeing from violence in Central America.
Helpful & Not So Helpful Messaging [PDF]
Message Tips & Suggestions [PDF]

Yuma UCC Aid Refuges
July 17, 2014, ucc.org
At 7 p.m. on a recent Saturday evening, the Rev. Alberta Wallace received a text message that took her a few minutes to fully comprehend. Sent from the community organizer of Yuma County Interfaith, a coalition of churches and nonprofits in Yuma County, Ariz., the message said that 16 women and children seeking refuge in the United States had been dropped off by U.S. Border Patrol in the parking lot of a local Walmart with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Read the rest of this article: Small Arizona congregation reaches out to women and children seeking refuge

Children in Crisis - Your Congregation Can Help

Church World Service
July 17, 2014
More than 300 children cross the U.S. border with Mexico every day unaccompanied by adults. Many of them are fleeing violence after their parents made the wrenching decision to send them north rather than risk staying home. Your congregation can help. With your support, we're reaching out to those children who have been taken into custody by U.S. law enforcement, ensuring they get the legal representation and spiritual care they need.
Please consider how you and your congregation can join us in this effort.
Link to CWS resources
Link to UCC resources

UCC Issues Appeal to Assist Unaccompanied Child Refugees
July 16, 2014
PRAY for the protection of the children, who have travelled hundreds of miles to escape the violence in their home countries.
GIVE generously to children fleeing violence in Central America and seeking safety in the U.S. UCC members, congregations, wider church and partner organizations have a long-term commitment to the just and loving treatment of neighbors at our national borders and beyond.
WRITE letters and JOIN common actions.
LEARN more background.

Silver City UCC Responds to Crisis
Silver City News, July 15, 2014
SILVER CITY >> Two small churches in Silver City are responding to the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding along the United States' border with Mexico. Officials estimate that approximately 52,000 unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America have crossed the border from Mexico since last October. President Barack Obama has appealed to Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency spending to try to deal with the issue. Even though the figures involved seem overwhelming, the Silver City United Church of Christ and Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of Silver City are doing what they can to help make a difference.
Read the rest of this article: Two Silver City churches are responding to the humanitarian crisis at the border

Noel Anderson Assumes Joint Position with UCC and Church World Service
Noel AndersonJuly 2014
Justice Witness Ministries has entered into a one-year agreement with Church World Service to work jointly in grassroots advocacy related to refugee and immigration issues. The Rev. Noel Anderson will work specifically with UCC churches, pastors, and lay leaders.
He will also serve as convener of the UCC Immigration Task Force, which is a growing group of activists from all over the country. All are welcome to join the Task Force and will be added to the list serve and participate in regular conference calls every 6-8 weeks.
Noel is available as our contact person for speaking, training, and local actions. His primary team connection in JWM is the Education for Faithful Action Team in Cleveland (led by Bentley deBardelaben); however, he will also work closely with our Washington DC Advocacy Team to draft policy decisions. Noel is housed in the CWS Office in Washington DC and his direct email is nandersen@cwsglobal.org.

UCC Congregations Address Humanitarian Crisis of Unaccompanied Migrant Children
July 8, 2014
They are coming to the United States in waves. Thousands of unaccompanied children, primarily from Central America, are crossing the border into the U.S. from Mexico, looking to escape violence and poverty at home. To address this humanitarian crisis, President Obama plans to ask Congress on Tuesday for more than $2 billion in emergency funding to help the children seeking refuge, as lawmakers and federal agencies wrestle with ways to stem the flow.
Link to read the rest of this article

Arizona UCC to provide sanctuary to immigrant family facing deportation
JMarco Tulio and familyune 25, 2014
Marco Tulio is desperately trying to stay in the United States with his wife and children. But complications with Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) and other aspects of the legal system make his deportation seem more likely every day. On Wednesday, June 25, advocates from the United Church of Christ and a number of immigrant rights groups will rally together in Arizona to support the Tulio family in their time of desperation by accompanying Tulio to submit one more request for a stay of removal and offering him sanctuary at Shadow Rock UCC in Phoenix. Read the rest of this article

Migrant Ministry in the SWC
May 2012
Many of the folks from Rincon have been praying for my friend Luis over the past many weeks. Luis was brought to the U.S. by his Mother when he was not yet 3 years old (to escape an abusive husband/father). Luis turned 20 years old this past Christmas Day ... Read this story

UCC leaders applaud Arizona immigration law injunction
July 29, 2010
>> Read their statement

Interfaith Immigration Coalition
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition (ICC), urges people to engage in constant prayer, public prayer events and advocacy for immigration reform.
Learn more about this organization: Interfaith Immigration Coalition

TOX: AZ Republic
>> Spanish congregation loses members in unsettling wake of immigration law

Stand for JusticeStand for Justice
The Justice and Witness Ministries of our national UCC setting has posted immigration resources and information on ucc.org.
Immigration page: Read stories of immigrants and their allies in Arizona, Virginia and North Carolina. Resources include talking points from Church World Service, travel-study Experiences through Centro Romero and much more.
Arizona: Arizona's page has information and resources for people in Arizona and others to 'Stand for Justice Act Now to Oppose the Arizona law'

M. Linda JaramilloA Culture of Fear
July 19, 2010
By M. Linda Jaramillo
Two weeks ago, UCC General Minister and President Geoffrey Black and I visited Arizona. Our purpose was to meet with and listen to church and community leaders who have been working on the various issues surrounding the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1070. While 1070 is steeped in political debate about who is on the “right” side of the question, people are living in fear. Fear seems to be dominating the culture and climate of Arizona. >> Read story

Geoffrey BlackUCC National Leaders Come to SWC in Ministry of Accompaniment
July 6, 2010
By Phil Reller and Randy Mayer
In times of difficulty and struggle it is not necessarily a person’s words that are important but it is the sense of presence and solidarity that becomes essential. In Latin America they call it a "ministry of accompaniment," the simple idea of walking with people in times of struggle and need. Last week the Southwest Conference experienced the ministry of accompaniment when General Minister and President Rev. Geoffrey Black and Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries Rev. Linda Jaramillo visited the border region. >> Read story

Expressions of Solidarity and Support
The Southwest Conference has been receiving words of solidarity and support from many circles within the United Church of Christ and from organizations who have come to see that we are fully committed to act on behalf of the immigrant. Many of those responding are aware that in a very short while, the same dynamics that we are experiencing here in Arizona will soon be present in their setting.
The support of our covenant and mission partners has been heartening, and we would like to share them with all of you. As they continue to arrive, we will update our website to include the full array of supportive responses in the hopes that you will be as inspired by them as we have been.

Southwest Conference resolution, passed by delegates to the 2010 SWC Annual Meeting: A Call for a More Humane US Immigration Policy; End Migrant Deaths; Support Immigrant Communities (Resolution of Witness) 
An Open Letter to President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano and Governor Jan Brewer

Council of Conference Ministers
sent a letter in support and concern about SB1070.
>> Read their letter

Central Pacific Conterence UCC approved an Emergency Resolution of Solidarity with Immigrants and the SWCUCC >> Read their resolution

Chicago Metropolitan Association of the Illinois Conference UCC
approved an Emergency Resolution of Solidarity with Immigrants and the SWCUCC >> Read their resolution

Rocky Mountain Conference UCC
approved an Emergency Resolution of Solidarity with Immigrants and the SWCUCC >> Read their resolution

Southern California Nevada Conference UCC approved a resolution: Expressing Solidarity and Support for our Sisters and Brothers in Arizona following passage of Arizona SB1070 and Encouraging our Members and Churches to Offer Relief and to Do Justice >> Read their resolution

Northern California Nevada Conference UCC are taking on the call to solidarity and action with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition. >> Read their call to action

This isn’t just another poem.
May 2010
Brittany Wideman, long active in the Youth and Outdoor ministry programs of the Southwest Conference, wrote and read this poem for a service of worship held at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Phoenix the night before a large march to protest SB 1070. Many who were there were deeply moved by her words, and we are proud now to share them with you. >> Read Brittney's poem

Daniel ErdmanWe are ONE Albuquerque!
On June 7, 2010, Daniel Erdman, pastor at Iglesia Congregacional Unida in Albuquerque and Outreach Coordinator for the New Mexico Conference of Churches, made this statement to the Albuquerque City Council.
> >Read his statement
Protest MarchUCC members opposed to immigration law join march on Arizona Capitol
Written by Scott Griessel, June 1, 2010
Members of the United Church of Christ from Arizona and around the country joined an estimated 20,000 protesters May 29 to march in opposition to the state's SB1070 immigration law that, according to critics, targets Hispanics and could leave the door open for racial profiling by law enforcement agencies. >> Read more

Ecumenical Advocacy DaysEcumenical Advocacy Days and Immigration Reform
April 5, 2010
As the Southwest Conference, we should be at the forefront in educating, mobilizing and organizing our people and the broader society around the issue of immigration" writes Noel Anderson. Read his article about taking part in Ecumenical Advocacy Days and Immigration Reform in Washington DC.