Rev. Joe Summer’s Statement given at the Washtenaw County Sanctuary Press Conference on February 14, 2018 at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
The public face of love is justice so I want to talk today about the New Sanctuary Movement and the call to Justice.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (people) are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. That among these Rights are the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
What we hear in our nation’s Declaration of Independence is the government of the United States is to be based on the principle of recognizing and honoring certain human rights that are not based on citizenship, race, class, country of origin, but simply based on being human. In my view, this makes our government’s denial of the fundamental human rights of the eleven million undocumented people in this country unconstitutional.
We have laws in this country that say that everyone, regardless of citizenship, are to be accorded due legal process. This makes the sham immigrant courts that have been set-up to expedite deporting people, that give people no real opportunity to defend themselves or present a legal defense, and the actions of ICE agents who terrorize people by breaking into their houses and seizing or threatening them—illegal.
We are also a country meant to be founded on certain moral principles, including caring for the vulnerable, particularly children and families and those fleeing terror. This makes the current actions of the Trump administration, these kangaroo courts, and these ICE Agents—immoral.
Now, when in the history of this country citizens have seen their government act in unconstitutional, illegal and immoral ways they have recognized their need to witness against these actions, to act to protect the vulnerable, and to demand our government respect the principles on which the well-being of our nation rests. Our country depends on a delicate balance between the public and the private, between the collective and the individual, and within this framework faith communities have a particular obligation to witness when our core values are being trampled on by those seeking economic or political gain.
This is what we saw when people stood up against the unconstitutional, illegal and immoral slave trade through the Underground Railroad. This is what happened when people stood up against the unconstitutional, illegal and immoral state of affairs that characterized Jim Crow through the Civil Rights movement. This is what happened in the first Sanctuary Movement when our government was refusing haven to those people fleeing the violent governments our government had help to impose on their countries. This is where we are today when those who created a system where they could economically exploit and politically manipulate immigrants by denying them a path to citizenship—now want to turn around and deport the very people they have been exploiting for decades and decades.
We are talking about people who have been parts of our communities for decades. We are talking about adults raised in our country from the time they were born. We are talking about people who for decades have sought a path to citizenship.
It’s time for people of faith to stand with those are government is persecuting, as people of true faith have always done, so that by in sharing in their persecution we might wake up our fellow citizens to see the evils being done in our name.