Our mission statement calls us to educate, raise awareness, and engage in efforts aimed at changing immigration policies. We partner with other UU congregations, and other interfaith and civic engagement groups in the community. As the national debate on immigration reform continues, we believe it is crucial to be leaders in this debate, in the context of living our UU values.
The IJWG meets monthly to plan activities and stay informed on immigration-related issues. We meet at the church on the fourth Tuesday, from 6:30-8:30 pm in the Meditation Room. All are welcome to attend. We also host an information table in the Social Hall on Sunday mornings. The IJWG is actively involved in various immigration-related activities. These include:
- Participating in the monthly Interfaith Prayer Vigil at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, where undocumented immigrants are held while awaiting deportation hearings. These vigils are held on first Saturdays, from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon, at 5555 Giant Highway in Richmond.
- Volunteering at DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) workshops to assist young Dreamers apply for deferred action from deportation, allowing them to obtain work permits and drivers licenses.
- Partnering with CCISCO (Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization) on their Campaign for Citizenship for undocumented immigrants, as a step toward compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform.
For more information about the IJWG, please contact Natalie DaSilva.
On Sunday, February 9, the congregation voted unanimously to enter into a formal affiliation with CCISCO (Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization). We are joining some 20 congregations throughout the County that are CCISCO members.
The vote came after an organizing campaign that was carried out over the past few months by a core team of congregational leaders. Members of UUCB have become involved in a number of CCISCO’s faith-based projects, including:
Social Justice at UUCB, Congregation Study/Action Issues (CSAIs)
The UUCB congregation voted on January 19, Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday, expressing their level of support for six different social justice issues. A complete ballot count of the 126 people who participated in the voting process revealed the following results: Escalating Inequality received the most support with 106 votes, Gun Violence received 89 votes, Renewing and Securing Our American Democracy received 68 votes, UU Values and the Pursuit of a Just Peace for Israelis and Palestinians received 54 votes, Empowerment: Age and Ability Reconsidered received 52 votes, and, Ending the War on Terror received the least support with 49 votes.
Standing on the Side of Love with Those in Detention
We're often referred to as "the people in the yellow shirts." We are known for "showing up." One of the places we UUs show up is at the West County Detention Facility (WCDF) in Richmond.
For 33 months now, there has been a monthly vigil at the WCDF for the undocumented immigrants in detention there. Many have been detained there for 6 months and longer, and some for more than 2 years: they are facing possible deportation although the vast majority pose no danger to the community and some are seeking asylum.
The vigils have grown from a handful of participants to as many as 70 to 80. We hear testimonials from those impacted by our broken immigration system. Members and friends of UUCB have been steadfast supporters of these vigils.
A welcome table provides support and resources for the families who have come to visit. These families face emotional and economic hardships with their loved ones in detention. A prayer box is there as well, so visitors can offer prayers for their loved ones. The monthly presence at the WCDF has also spawned other efforts to support immigrant families: a campaign for phone justice to address the exorbitant cost of phone calls from the facility and a weekly visitation program to carry compassion and support to those inside.
Come stand on the side of love at the West County Detention Facility. Vigils are held on the first Saturday of every month from 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. The address is 5555 Giant Highway in Richmond (near Point Pinole). The March vigil will be led by UUCB.
Let us come together to make our mission statement come alive...to create loving community, inspire spiritual growth, and encourage lives of integrity, joy, and service. Last February, the board authorized a task force to explore an affiliation with CCISCO (Contra Costa Interfaith Serving Community Organization). The Board authorized a congregational vote on a formal affiliation with CCISCO at the February 9, 2014 Congregational meeting.
CCISCO consists of some 20 affiliated faith based congregations. Rather than being focused on a single issue, CCISCO concentrates on building relationships with the goal of creating a lasting community-based organization.
- make UUCB the first predominantly white, middle-class congregation in CCISCO. We will work with communities of different races and ethnicities on projects of common interest.
- empower us to form a lasting community, inside and outside the church, able to concentrate on a variety of issues.
In brief, CCISCO will
- consult with congregational staff and church leaders on the development of a congregation-community organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for parishioners and the local residents of the community
- provide leadership development training and guidance to the congregation
- train leaders in congregation-based community organizing and guide them through civic action resulting in positive changes benefiting members and the larger community
- provide retreats for clergy and religious leaders offering inspiration for our justice work
and UUCB will agree to:
- build a local ministry dedicated to improving the community
- be an active participant in county-wide activities
- publicize CCISCO events
- pay an annual Partnership in Ministry Fee for services provided (the fee is $1,000 annually—The UUA will provide a $500 reimbursement in our first year of affiliation)
- have the option of sending a representative to the quarterly CCISCO Leadership Summit to set the organization direction and elects the Board of Directors
From Craig Scott on behalf of the Immigration Justice Working Group
With the hopes of comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform at the national level having dimmed, immigration justice advocates are turning to direct action to highlight the plight of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.: nearly 2 million deportations under the Obama Administration; a "bed quota" of 34,000 detained daily; 97,000 migrants processed for "illegal entry" and "illegal re-entry" in 2012 alone.
In this spirit, faith and labor leaders began "Fasting for Families" on November 12th on the National Mall. The message to elected officials is clear and unequivocal: Keep families together.
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County Jail Phones - Update
On August 12, several of us attended a hearing of the Contra Costa agency that is looking into the high cost of phone calls for inmates and detainees at the West County Detention Facility. Under the current contract with GlobalTel, which is currently up for renewal, phone calls cost $4 to $6 per minute. The sheriff's department justifies this by saying that the half a million dollars that is kicked back to the department annually funds inmate programs.
Farm Worker Reality Tour
FARM WORKER REALITY TOUR
Strawberry Harvesting Demonstration & FW Life Story Followed by Dialogue, Testimonials, & Dinner with Farmworkers at Migrant Labor Camp in Watsonville
Sunday, July 21, 2013: 3 - 9 PM
Limited to the first 25 who register. Children with parents welcome. The first 25 persons to register (pay) will be able to attend.
$30 per Person – Check Payable to “Human Agenda”. Send to Human
Agenda Treasurer, 2175 The Alameda, Suite 103, San Jose, CA 95126.
Proceeds go primarily to farm worker families hosting the tour.
At 3:00 PM in the surface parking lot at SJCC at the corner of Moorpark and Leigh Avenues. We will carpool to Watsonville.
Jeans, T-shirts, etc. (nothing flashy or ostentatious).
Dr. Ann Lopez, Professor and Author, The Farmworkers’ Journey
Richard Hobbs, Immigration Attorney & Executive Director, Human Agenda
Contact Cesar Juarez at email@example.com or 408-421-2895
Description: This tour will challenge participants to better understand the conditions of Mexican farmworkers in Northern California. We will drive to the Crystal Bay Farms Strawberry Field where Cristina Lazcano will talk about her life and jobs as strawberry picker and mother of seven. She will demonstrate how to harvest strawberries after which participants will have the opportunity to pick and purchase strawberries. Then we will drive to the Buena Vista Migrant Labor Camp near Watsonville where farmworkers will show their living quarters and give testimonies on their wages, working conditions, use of pesticides, and challenges their children have in receiving education. A farmworker meal is included in the cost. The tour leaders will share recent information on farmworkers including demographics, how globalization propels immigration, S.744 and the prospects for passing immigration reform, and the conditions of farmworkers on both sides of the border. For those who wish, Ann Lopez will sign copies of her book, The Farmworkers’ Journey, at the discounted rate of $15.
Campaign for Citizenship
Keep Our Families United!
Community Forums with Congressmen George Miller
Richmond and Concord - On June 8th, faith leaders from Contra Costa County will engage U.S. Congressman George Miller about the immigration reform bill currently making its way through Congress in two separate community forums. Join with DREAM Act students and other community leaders to discuss with congressman Millers office what a fair, inclusive and direct roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans would look like.
These community forums will give local clergy and members from several local congregations the opportunity to offer testimony and encourage Congressman Miller to publicly support a fair and direct path to citizenship. Faith leaders from the Contra Costa will speak about key milestones they would like to see on the path to citizenship including the ability to apply for protected status, family reunification, the ability for those who have reached the appropriate status to work, drive and travel, and for the application costs to be affordable to people of all incomes.
Saturday, June 8th
1st Forum - 9:00am - St. Marks Church
159 Harbour Way, Richmond
2nd Forum - 11:30am - Queen of All Saints Church
2390 Grant St., Concord
For more information, please contact Natalie DaSilva
Foro Comunitario con representante George Miller
Richmond y Concord - El día Sábado, 8 de Junio, lideres religiosos del condado de Contra Costa estarán con el Congresista George Miller en dos eventos presentando lo que esta pasando actualmente con lo que el senado planteo acerca de la Reforma Inmigratoria. Acompáñanos con los sonadores y otros lideres comunitarios para debatir con el Congresista Miller como un camino justo, incluyente y directo a la ciudadanía para los 11 millones de inmigrantes indocumentados puede ser posible.
Estos foros comunitarios le darán la oportunidad al clero y lideres de diversas congregaciones locales la oportunidad de dar su testimonio y comprometer al congresista Miller para que públicamente apoye un camino justo y directo para la ciudadanía. Lideres religiosos del condado de Contra Costa hablaran de los puntos claves que quisieran ver en una reforma inmigratoria incluyendo la habilidad de aplicar por un estatus de protección, la reunificación de las familias, la habilidad de tener un estatus apropiado para trabajar, manejar y viajar, y que la aplicación tenga un costo asequible para las personas de todos los ingresos.
Sábado, 8 de junio
1er Foro - 9:30am - Iglesia de San Marcos
159 Harbour Way, Richmond
2nd Foro- 11:30am - Iglesia la Reina de Todos los Santos,
2390 Grant St., Concord
Para información en español contacto Claudia Jimenez - 510-414-9025
Our Southern Border
I recently traveled to Tucson to see for myself what goes on along the border or the United States and Mexico. I spoke with people from both sides of the border: Mexican citizens, American citizens, migrants, deportees, dreamers. Some spoke English, some spoke Spanish, but everyone wanted a chance to make a better life for themselves and their families.
I spoke with migrants who were about to make the trip from Mexico to the United States in search of a better life. They understood that they were risking their life in the journey across the harsh desert, that they were at the mercy of the “coyote” guide who was escorting them, and that they probably would be caught by the US Border Patrol and deported. Still they are going, and will go again, and again, because they are desperately seeking a better life. As one migrant succinctly said: “It's very simple. You need workers, and we need work.”
I also spoke to three dreamers (Dario, Anna, and Jessica) who came to the United States on tourist visas before they were old enough to attend elementary school. They worked hard at school and earned very good grades. Their dream was and is to attend college, get a good job, and make a life for themselves here. But, because their tourist visa has expired, in Arizona they are not allowed to receive public scholarships because they are undocumented. They have to find other funding, and have established an organization called Scholarships A-Z to help dreamers find scholarships. After hearing their stories, I want to help dreamers find the means to attend college. It's very simple. We need educated people for our future, and Anna, Dario and Jessica need citizenship and a good job for their future.