Immigration Justice: Session 4
Advance Reading: Members of the group should read Chapters Seven and Eight of Undocumented by Aviva Chomsky.
Note: Please have available a laptop or other means to share with your group the piece of music noted below.
Danos un corazon grande para amar
Danos un corazon fuerte para luchar.
Pueblos nuevos, creadores de la historia, constructores de nueva humanidad.
Pueblos nuevos que viven la existencia como riesgo de un largo caminar.
Give us a heart large enough to love,
Give us a heart strong enough to struggle.
New people, creators of history, builders of a new humanity—
New people who live their existence
as though for the risk of a long journey.
Invite group members to share any reflections or feelings that arose after last week’s conversation, or in relation to the reading for this week.
Listen together to the second segment of “The Missing Migrants.” NOTE: Between the two segments there are several minutes of ads; the second section begins at about 26:30 minutes.
Discussion: PT 1
- As you listened to this second part of the broadcast, what feelings arose for you?
- Can you imagine yourself engaging in the work of a group like No More Deaths? If you lived in the region where they operate, what might draw you to join in their work, and what might hold you back?
Please have three different members of the group read aloud these three short paragraphs. The first is taken from the reading for this unit:
First Reading: “When parents disappear into the immigration system […] they run the risk of losing custody of their children. Courts may terminate parental rights after parents are deported or detained. In the criminal justice system, prisoners have guaranteed certain rights and access to services. Immigrant detainees, though, fall into a sort of constitutional and legal netherworld. The circumstances of their detention often make it impossible for them to comply with requirements for retaining custody of their children. […] An unknown number of those children are being put up for adoption against the wishes of their parents, who, once deported, are often helpless to fight when a US judge decides that their children are better off here. [NOTE: in the fall of 2014 the number of such adoptions was estimated to be approaching 5,000].[…] In a 2007 case an undocumented Guatemalan woman was arrested during a raid at the chicken plant where she worked in Missouri. While she was in detention, her six-month-old son was taken from her custody and put up for adoption.”
Second Reading: Human Rights Watch has argued that one of the most basic of all rights is that to a private family life, free of state coercion. On this basis, they see the separation of family members from one another through deportation as a fundamental violation of human dignity. For more info, click here.
Third Reading: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts: “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. […] The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” (Art. XVI)
- What are some of the ways in which Chomsky asserts that current US immigration policies and practices violate the human rights of undocumented people? Do you agree or disagree with her arguments?
- What would you add, reject or change in Chomsky’s suggestions for “Solutions” in the final chapter?
Music Break: Deportee
Please have the group listen together to this song by Woody Guthrie, sung by Pete Seeger.
Hold a time of silence, then share this poem fragment from “Mending Wall”, by Robert Frost:
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out
and to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
Discussion: PT 2
Our UU tradition places a strong emphasis on the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings. In doing so, it draws on many sources, including, but not limited to, the Jewish tradition of God’s image in humankind, Christian notions of Jesus’ suffering humanity, 19th century liberal teachings of “inborn goodness,” and 20th century religious humanism.
- What have been some of the passages or episodes in Chomsky’s book that most resonated with this UU emphasis on human dignity?
- Were there passages or episodes in which you were particularly struck by a sense of shared humanity with undocumented people?
- What would an immigration policy look like that was truly grounded in UU values? What would it have to look like in order to respect the “inherent worth and dignity of all people”?
“A Ritual to Read to Each Other”
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes, no, or maybe– should be clear:
the darkness around us is deep.
— by William Stafford