Delegates vote on a proposed amendment to the Statement of Conscience on immigration, which they went on to approve almost unanimously. (© 2013 Nancy Pierce/UUA)
Delegates to the 2013 General Assembly adopted overwhelmingly a Statement of Conscience regarding “Immigration as a Moral Issue” Friday morning.
The statement, introduced to the delegates by Susan Goekler, chair of the Commission on Social Witness (CSW), has been several years in the making. In 2010, delegates voted that Immigration as a Moral Issue should be the Unitarian Universalist Association’s topic of study for four years.
For the three years since, congregations have been studying the issue and working on immigration projects. Members of the CSW drafted the SOC, with input from congregations at the intervening GAs.
The statement says that, “As a religious people, our Principles call us to acknowledge the immigration experience and to affirm and promote the flourishing of the human family.”
The SOC lays out the history of migration of peoples. And it examines current factors contributing to immigration and lack of documentation, including the search for safety, food, shelter, and better lives.
It examines the consequences of lack of documentation and legal status, including exploitation and denial of civil rights.
The SOC calls on UUs to “affirm that all immigrants, regardless of legal status, should be treated justly and humanely.”
A moral immigration policy will include: a path to legal permanent residency and citizenship; work visas; due process; and preservation of family unity, among other things, the SOC says.
It includes two printed pages of calls to action for UUs. Individuals should educate themselves and advocate for moral immigration practices. Congregations should cooperate with other UU congregations, faith groups, and secular groups for education and action. And the denomination should publically witness against violations of human dignity and rights of immigrants and advocate for moral immigration policies.
Debate lasted for less than an hour, with most of it focusing on amendments that were unincorporated by the CSW. Just one unincorporated amendment passed, adding the word “documented,” to underscore that both documented and undocumented immigrants alike can face similar struggles.
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Michelle Bates Deakin, a member of First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington, Massachusetts, was a UU World contributing editor from 2006 to 2011 and a UU World senior editor from 2011 to 2014. She is the author of Social Action Heroes: Unitarian Universalists Who Are Changing the World (Skinner House, 2011) and Gay Marriage, Real Life: 10 Stories of Love and Family (Skinner House, 2006).
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