Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Walking North

First in a series of posts about the January UUA Board Meeting. A similar version of this post is appearing on the UUA Board blog.

On Monday, January 18, 14 members of the UUA Board of Trustees will walk across the border with other UUs and members of the group No Más Muertes (No More Deaths, a ministry of the UU Congregation of Tucson) to Nogales, Mexico, where we will speak with migrants and just-deported migrants. The afternoon includes a panel discussion with human rights and immigration rights activists, and the next day will find some of us in court, observing the deportation process, and some of us back in Nogales, serving the same groups of people we saw the day before. On Wednesday we return to Tempe and the start of the January Board meeting, part of it joint with the 2012 GA Advisory Team. Chaired by (Rev.) Leslie Takahashi Morris, this team was convened to represent many of the stakeholders in a “justice GA” and reports to both the board and the GA Planning Committee.

The Board meeting includes time with several immigration rights groups and local Unitarian Universalist congregations. The events in Tucson of January 8, in which 6 people were murdered, and a US representative is still in critical condition, add both deliberation and urgency to these meetings. Many of our local congregants knew Representative Giffords and other victims of the shooting, and worked on her campaign. We all shared the shock expressed by President Peter Morales that day.

The immigration issue has become more and more personal for me. As posted previously in this blog, reading “The Death of Josseline” forced me to abandon my own “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding many of the service people I come into contact with. Many of them are illegal, including one who is college-educated from El Salvador, fled because her father and his family were targeted by crime gangs, and spent 10 days in jail when she was caught crossing the border to the United States illegally.

When they let her go, she kept on walking north.

Next post: how we expect to spend 60 hours in Board meetings


Karin L. said...

Dear Linda, thanks for your witness and moving accounts. I urge you, however, not to use the word "illegal" to describe people. No human being is illegal. This language contributes to the dehumanization you refer to in your following post.

I'm curious about what you mean by abandoning your "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Do you actually ask people explicitly about their immigration status? Have you found that they are willing to share their stories?

Linda Laskowski said...

You are absolutely right, Karin, and I appreciate you calling me on it. I wrote this before coming to Arizona, and did not have the same level of sensitivity to this term that I do now.

Linda Laskowski said...

I am careful about how I ask a question about status -- for the most part it is with people I know fairly well, and it is done in a way that allows them to gracefully answer (or not). So far there has been no reluctance to talk -- the ones I have asked know me well enough to know I will not be reporting them to DHS, and it has opened up an entire world to me that has been under my nose all this time.