My heart changed. When I crossed the border and saw the wall dividing us and heard the stories and felt the truth in my bones, my heart changed. The trustees below and President Morales have described the stories and experiences eloquently.
That trip was a powerful experience for me in understanding the human and inhuman consequences of our immigration policies and our complicity in creating the circumstances that have brought us all to this place. Until the Jesuit sister showed me the pictures, I really did not understand the desperate poverty that drives migrants to make their journey over the fence and through the desert. Until I met the mothers and children I did not fully understand the inhumanity of our immigration policies, the families separated intentionally, the thousands of people who have died in the Arizona desert as a result of strategic “funneling” of migrants, and the senseless incarceration and abuse of migrants. I thought I was fairly savvy – after all, two of my grandchildren have an undocumented Mexican father – but I just did not understand how much has changed in the last ten years. I did not expect the meanness. My heart changed. No longer can I view “the immigration issue” as something academic to be studied and “tackled.” People are suffering and we must make it stop.
February 22 was Immigration Rights lobby day at the Georgia State Capitol. The Legislature is in session and a broad array of what are now referred to as Arizona-copycat bills have been introduced – “Show me your papers,” English-only driver’s license exams, no entrance to public colleges or universities, teachers and medical providers required to collect data on undocumented students or patients, and many more. Georgia is copying no one. We fully own the fear and anger and posturing that has found a new target in people who are living here without our permission.
I have much to learn and I don’t often lobby in person but this time my Unitarian Universalist faith kicked me out of bed, shoved a muffin in my hand, and rode me to the capitol to have my say. I wore my stickers and with my ministers and fellow congregants talked to legislators, Democrat and Republican. At a press conference on the capitol steps a speaker commended Unitarian Universalists for our witness. Then I came home and wrote letters and made calls. Human rights don’t depend on stamped documents. Justice doesn’t need a visa. And this UU nana is on her last nerve.
What is happening where you live? What are your experiences and have you been moved to action? What issues are you struggling with? We need to share our stories and concerns and listen to each other. I have shared mine. Now I would like to listen to yours.”
UUA Trustee from Mid-South District