BLOG: VOICES FROM CEDAR LANE
Cedar Lane’s Immigrant Justice Ministry was formed in October 2016 after members participated in a Borderlinks/Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice (UUCSJ)-sponsored ‘Border Witness Journey’ to the Tucson AZ area. For five days participants explored in-depth experiences and reflections around immigration across the SW border, what drives immigrants to leave their home countries, immigrant rights, humanitarian efforts, deportation, US courts, sources of injustices in this system, and numerous related factors. We made commitments to assist immigrants who unjustly suffer at the hands of our governments, our businesses, and our citizens.
On our return we began organizing. The November 2016 election increased urgency. Others shared our vision of immigrant justice-making. We engaged in the nascent efforts of the DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network, as founding members and now leaders. Sanctuary has many meanings, all revolving around seeking justice for and support of our immigrant neighbors. In May 2017 our congregation voted to be a “Physical Sanctuary,” allowing us at Cedar Lane to house immigrants seeking refuge from unjust deportation.
Our DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network is allied with the national grass roots organizer Faith in Action (FIA) and LA RED, its immigrant justice arm. Given our proximity to lawmakers, we are routinely on Capitol Hill to effect policy change. We educate, march, protest, pray, petition, send letters, train, and ally with others regionally and nationally, and have shared some “wins” for immigrant justice. We house, feed and join advocates from across the country to petition and march for equity and justice. We lead calls to action. The basis of this work is called “deportation defense.” We accompany immigrants as they move through the overly complicated US system of laws in their asylum quests, at their ICE check-ins, in educating officials and the public. Our presence says to ICE: our neighbors belong with us; families belong together and free.
Beginning Dec 10 we welcomed Rosa Gutierrez Lopez into physical sanctuary. Her US citizen children are her frequent guests. ICE insisted Rosa self-deport despite her pending court case. She chose to seek Sanctuary. Physical sanctuary is the gift of protection and time Rosa and others with deportation orders need for legal due process to be served, which ICE’s overly aggressive actions toward them would circumvent.
Cedar Lane and our allies know “We can do more together” and “No One Stands Alone.” Through our ministry and sanctuary teams, we have real opportunities to succeed by all working together for justice and love. Here are a few:
Sanctuary needs are ongoing. Support Rosa by joining one of numerous volunteer crews that handle 24/7 tasks of companionship, security, translations, food and errands, children’s transportation, health care, administration, and more. Volunteers are background checked and trained. For task registration and other information, email Charlene Zellmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Immigrant Justice Movie Night includes light supper and panel discussion. Presenting award-winning short films Kiko and DACAmented which focus on family separation and asylum seeking, both with issues affecting Rosa. Look for upcoming eNews and fliers. Friday, Feb 15, 6:30 – 9 pm at Cedar Lane.