A few days ago, there was a raid at the Shogun Buffet in Asheville, in which twelve people were arrested by Immigration & Customs Enforcement. The original Citizen Times article is here.
Immigration is a complex issue, full of many social and legal nuances. People in our community and in our congregation do not necessarily hold the same beliefs about what is “right” when it comes to immigration. For better or for worse, it is a new issue for Unitarian Universalists as a whole, and for our congregation as well. By a “new issue” I mean that though we may as individuals support and work with organizations that assist immigrants, we have just recently begun to engage in the conversation about what it means to us as a community. At the 2010 General Assembly in Minneapolis, “Immigration as a Moral Issue” was voted the 2010-2014 Study Action Issue. This means that we are, across the board, invited and encouraged to study and reflect upon this issue.
I am already in the process of working with representatives from the UU Relations Committee and the Social Justice Council to discuss how the UU Congregation of Asheville will begin engaging in this conversation. It all seems very abstract, until you read the news of this week’s raid, and realize that it isn’t abstract at all, it’s about human beings, right in our backyard, who are bearing a heavy load every day, and for these 12 families, the load just got unbearable, and right in the middle of the winter holidays.
Immigration is not a simple issue, and I do not yet know where we stand as a congregation. I was in Phoenix, AZ in July 2010 with the delegation of UUs protesting SB1070, and I have some reflections on that experience that I will share with you in the months to come. For now, what I know is that the US immigration system is broken, and the immigrant community is suffering. It’s a humanitarian crisis, and it is heartbreaking. The question of how we will respond as a community is a conversation we must engage together.
For now, if you are interested in helping the local families affected by this raid, here is some more information that might be helpful. A Mountain Xpress article here. And information from COLA about the assistance that is needed right now is here.