Marching for Immigration Justice in Cincinnati
Last week when I spoke at the “March Forth for Justice” conference on immigration, I was reminded that for many Americans, the problems plaguing our immigration system seem too remote to pay much attention to.
We hear stories on the news, but we probably don’t personally know any of the 1.2 million immigrants who have been deported in the past three years. We hear words like “amnesty,” “illegals,” and “DREAM Act,” but we don’t put faces to those words. We think that immigration is something that affects people in California, Arizona, or Texas – but not where we live.
The truth is, immigrants live in every area of the country, and that the debate over immigration reform could have dramatic consequences for urban and rural communities alike.
Faith communities know this– they see immigrants filling the seats at houses of worship every weekend, and their congregations notice when the families of immigrants who have been deported turn to them for help.
So it was an honor to participate last weekend in a full-day conference organized by faith communities in and around Cincinnati focused on immigration issues. “March Forth for Justice” was co-sponsored by a coalition of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic organizations and spearheaded by the Unitarian Universalist Council of Greater Cincinnati.
Conference participants heard about both the national debate over immigration, as well as that debate’s effect on communities in and around Cincinnati.
A diverse group of speakers discussed Cincinnati’s history as a city of immigrants, as well as the contributions to Cincinnati’s diversity from a new generation of immigrants. And three courageous young undocumented immigrants who have never known a home other than the United States discussed their hopes for a future in America, and their fears that they will be deported regardless of their academic achievements and strong family and community ties.
Events like March Forth for Justice, which culminated in a rally in support of the DREAM Act, remind us that immigration affects every corner of our country, and that the Obama administration’s destructive and counter-productive immigration enforcement policies rip apart communities every day.
The more frequently communities like Cincinnati rise up in support of comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to legal residency for undocumented immigrants, the greater the chances are of our elected officials taking action to fix our nonsensical immigration system.
Congratulations to the organizers of March Forth for Justice for a wonderful conference, and here’s hoping that faith communities and others around the country follow suit.