Today the UU Justice Ministry of California, through our Immigrant Justice Action Team, endorsed the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE. For some people the proposal to ‘abolish’ a part of our government seems a step too far. For others it is long overdue. I want to speak to those who consider the abolition of ICE an ask that is too much for our Unitarian Universalist faith.
I want to tell you that I, too, was once someone who felt that we cannot simply abolish a wing of our government. How will we have any ‘control’? How will we implement an effective immigration system? Is this the same as open borders? If so, is there any way it can pass? I was a skeptic. Then I spoke to people. I spoke with a mother who’s son was taken at night and put in a van. He was pulled out of his home at 4am with his son and daughter weeping as he was handcuffed. I heard of a Honduran woman who came to seek asylum with her 23 month-old granddaughter. It took two months for her to find her granddaughter after she bonded out. I learned of ICE raids in communities that strike fear in communities of color and destroy trust. I heard of a victim of domestic violence too afraid to call police because ICE had raided her neighbors house screaming ‘POLICE’ and she feared she would be deported. I learned how ICE has become a paramilitary force preying on our communities of color across the country, not just at the border.
But we can’t call for ICE without having a plan to replace it with something. Yes, we can. ICE was only created in March 2003. Many among our congregations have children older than ICE! Our country in its current form existed for a long time before ICE existed. Immigration and Naturalization Services, along with a number of border and revenue agencies, carried out enforcement of laws and policies, albeit without the tanks, helicopters, guns, drones and other paramilitary operations. In abolishing ICE we can and will work with partners and allies in negotiating a more humane system of immigration enforcement that at the very least values the worth and dignity of those in our communities.
We must stare our fears in the face and name them.
We must challenge our discomfort with what we think is unknown.
We must not allow our government to continue the criminalization of people of color.
We must have the courage to confront the racially biased and inhumane treatment of our community members.
Today the UU Justice Ministry of California joins many organizations already calling for the abolition of ICE. We will be putting out more resources in the days and weeks to come. In the meantime, please check out this editorial from the Guardian for some additional information.
Thank you for your time and I hope you will consider supporting the abolition of ICE. If you are a delegate to the #UUAGA in Kansas City, we urge you to support the Action of Immediate Witness entitled “End Family Separation and Detention of Asylum Seekers and Abolish ICE”.
Prayer for Living in Tension
If we have any hope of transforming the world and changing ourselves,
we must be
bold enough to step into our discomfort,
brave enough to be clumsy there,
loving enough to forgive ourselves and others.
May we, as a people of faith, be granted the strength to be
and so loving.
-Rev. Joseph M. Cherry