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Faith Week of Action: Oppose Family Separation & Detention September 23-29

After thousands of people rose up this summer against separating families and criminalizing immigrants, the White House and ICE are now trying to pump even more money into detaining, deporting, and prosecuting our friends and loved ones.

As Congress debates plans to fund the government for Fiscal Year 2019, the Trump administration is asking for billions of dollars in new funding for ICE, Border Patrol, and the Department of Justice—the same agencies that carried out the family separation policy. Any new money for the agencies that detain, deport, and prosecute immigrants will mean more parents being taken from their children and more people torn from our communities.

Love Resists, a joint campaign of the UUA and UUSC, and Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ) are joining the Faith Week of Action, starting September 23, led by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC). We have a simple message for Congress: Not one more penny for family separation, “zero tolerance” prosecutions, and detention.

Here are two ways you can take action:

1. Call your members of Congress

Call 866-940-2439 and ask to be connected to your Representatives and Senators (note you will need to make three separate calls in order to contact each of your legislators). Here is a sample script:

“Hello, my name is [first and last name], and I am your constituent from [city / town].

I’m calling to ask you to withhold funding for immigration detention, deportation, and “zero tolerance” prosecutions of immigrants in this year’s spending bills. Instead, I urge you to direct these funds to community-based alternatives to detention, as well as refugee-related accounts that promote human rights.

Detaining and separating families, and prosecuting asylum-seekers are violations of human rights, as well as of my principles as a person of faith and conscience. I ask you not to support these injustices in my name.”

Immigration detention facility in Karnes, Texas.

2. Write a letter to your legislator telling them why you oppose funding increases for detention and deportation

Letters can be of any length–just write from the heart about why these issues matter to you and your community. Please send completed letters to loveresists[@]uusc.org. Send us your letters anytime during the week of action, and the UUSJ team will deliver them in person to your representatives on Capitol Hill.

You may also be interested in collecting letters at a letter-writing table during coffee hour at your congregation, or inviting friends and family to join you in writing letters. Here is a sample letter – please personalize and draw from your own experience:

Dear Sen./Rep. <last name>,

I’m deeply concerned that Congress is considering spending bills that would increase funding for agencies that detain, deport, and prosecute immigrants. Especially in the wake of Trump’s family separation policy that traumatized thousands of children, it is unconscionable to think of using taxpayer resources—of which immigrant members of our communities contribute a substantial share—to tear apart more parents and children.

The appropriations bills that have cleared committee in many places meet or exceed the Trump administration’s funding request—both for immigration enforcement agencies and for U.S. Attorneys Offices, whose over-prosecution of harmless immigration violations have been a pillar of the so-called “zero tolerance” policy. All of these agencies have been implicated in separating families and criminalizing immigrants and asylum-seekers.

Moreover, recent news reports indicate that ICE is lobbying for a sharp funding increase in shorter-term spending measures—even after Congress allowed ICE to reprogram money from federal emergency management to expand detention last year. These policies reflect a pattern of recklessly overspending in order to justify future funding increases.

Other recent events make it even more dangerous to direct new funds to immigration enforcement. At the same time the administration is trying to expand funding for detention, it has proposed new rules to make it possible to detain children indefinitely. Legislation in the Senate (S. 3093) would write these changes into federal law. Moreover, the administration’s move to cancel Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 300,000 U.S. residents has rendered even more people vulnerable to deportation.

As a result, new funding for immigration enforcement may be used in the near future to detain children and deport TPS holders—many of whom have been part of our communities for decades and have children who are U.S. citizens.

Children and their families belong together in freedom—not separated, deported, or caged. As your constituent, I ask you to bring this year’s spending bills in line with our deeper values. Instead of funding detention and separation, I ask Congress to fund community-based alternatives to detention and refugee-related programs that protect human rights.

Sincerely,

<First Name, Last Name>