Tag Archives: Faith

New Christian, Muslim Coalition Launches with March

Coalition to focus on American traditions of diversity and religious freedom
Faith leaders and congregants from local Christian and Muslim communities took to the streets Sunday in a display of unity to uplift basic human dignity and counter recent attacks on refugees, Muslims and immigrants. “Neighbors Building Bridges” launched its campaign for interfaith and intercultural understanding with a march that began in Southwest Detroit at St. Gabriel’s Church, included the American Muslim Society in East Dearborn and ended at UAW Local 600.

Mario Hernandez hero“The Muslims of East Dearborn and the Christians of Southwest Detroit are neighbors who face many of the same challenges since the presidential election,” said Mario Hernandez, an immigrant parent fighting to stop his deportation. “But, working together with like-minded allies, we can strengthen our communities and work to overcome the racism and xenophobia that are ever present. We are people of faith who want to keep immigrant families like mine together and we see our adherence to faith as a way to combat bigotry and prejudice.”

The group, made of many people from different faiths and backgrounds, sees itself as being rooted in the great American traditions of diversity and religious freedom.

“When we look at the diversity of the people who make up our communities, we should be reminded that this nation was founded by immigrants many of whom were seeking the right to worship without persecution,” said Khalid Turaani, President of the American Muslim Leadership Council. “We are following the examples set in our respective faith traditions of welcoming the stranger and providing a place of refuge for those in need. It just so happens those are core American values as well. We want to be clear that refugees, immigrants and people of all faiths are welcome here.”
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Photo courtesy Chloe Michaels

6 Things You Can Do right now to Support the people of Flint, MI

We’ve all heard about the crisis in Flint: lead and other contaminants leaching into the water due to gross negligence at all levels of government.
Response and recovery is going to be a long process, and Michigan United is committed to supporting Flint for the long-haul.
What can you do?
1) Take action! Click HERE to sign up to volunteer today.
Regular canvasses and events are being held to identify and inform people who are directly impacted and connect them to the resources they will need in the coming weeks and months.
2) Donate to the Genesee Hispanic-Latino Collaborative.
The Collaborative is working to ensure that immigrants get access to the information and resources they need. Many didn’t find out about the water problems until recently, and are disenfranchised from the city’s normal water distribution system.
3) Donate water directly. 

asuvpodnwzcumkyioa2gIf you live in the Detroit area, you can bring bottled water to the Michigan United Office at 4405 Wesson Street between 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Donors in the Flint area can take water to St. Mary’s Church, 2500 North Franklin between 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM.
4) Join Michigan United’s Environmental Justice team in Detroit.

We’re going to need a strong team fighting for clean water and a just recovery all across the state.

5) Attend the Michigan United meeting in Flint.

Thursday, January 28th, at 6:00 PM at 1st Unitarian Universalist Church, 2474 South Ballenger Highway. We’ll be talking about what next steps we can take together to address the causes of the crisis and hold the politicians who caused it accountable. RSVP to rae@npa-us.org to take part.

6) Speak out!
Do you know someone who has been impacted by the crisis? Michigan United is working with our partners to ensure that local families have their voices heard in the media. We’re looking for Flint residents, especially families with small children, that might be willing to tell their story to the press. We’ll provide training and support. Contact Erik Shelley at erik@miunited.org.

Flint’s water problem wasn’t inevitable.

It’s happening because politicians acted with callous disregard for the lives of low-income families and communities of color. This is what happens when the legislature takes away the right of a community to vote for their own local leadership.
We’ll work hard to support the immediate needs of residents and hope you will too. But as we work for the long-haul, we need to be equally committed to fighting for a just recovery and to overturning the laws that caused this problem in the first place.

40 Labor, Faith, Civil Rights Groups Call on Obama to End ICE Raids

President Obama, Stop the immigration raids and protect vulnerable families

From across Michigan today, 40 labor, faith, civil rights and community groups called on President Obama to end a new round of raids targeting Central American families seeking who have fled their home countries as refugees.

“These families are coming from countries with some of the highest per capita murder rates in the Western Hemisphere,” said Michigan State University professor, Ruben Martinez. “The United States should be working to protect these families instead of returning them to the dangers they will surely face.”

Click here for Audio from the tele-press conference available for download and broadcast.

The group includes the state’s largest labor unions, more than a dozen faith leaders, as well as representatives of the Latino, Asian American, and Arab-American communities.

Please see the full statement and signers below:

1/11/16

To: Honorable President Barack Obama
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson
Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Sara Saldana

We are extremely concerned with the Administration’s announcement that DHS will pursue home raids that specifically target immigrant and refugee families from Central America.

Home raids are a deeply traumatizing and brutal experience for immigrant communities. We believed that the Obama Administration had progressed toward a more nuanced and humane understanding of immigration enforcement, particularly as it relates to families and children. However, this program is a step backwards toward the dark days of the Bush Administration’s discredited policies.

Many of these families will be sent to some of the most violent areas on the planet– nations on the brink of civil war with drug gangs. El Salvador has the highest murder rate in the world, 22 times higher than the US. It just unseated Honduras for this dubious distinction (15 times higher than the US), with Guatemala (7 times higher) not far behind. El Salvador has the highest rate of gender-based violence in the world. The United Nations documents that children fleeing these countries are regularly subjected to gang violence and sexual assault.

Moreover, the US bears great responsibility for the instability in Central America. Years of US intervention have consistently undermined democratic governments in this area. Insatiable demand for narcotics by US consumers has financed the development of the drug gangs that perpetrate much of the violence. Additionally, many of the high-powered firearms used by these gangs are trafficked from the US due to lax American gun laws.

Furthermore, border security is at its highest in decades with more Border Patrol agents stationed than at any time in history, while the number of people crossing the border is at its lowest number in decades. Secretary Johnson himself noted, “With the exception of one year, (FY 2015) was the lowest number of apprehensions on our southern border since 1972”

Now is not the time to cave in to the politics of fear.

We are refusing to protect blameless families from violence and instability that the US government has done much to create.

President Obama should immediately stop deporting families fleeing violence in Central America and uphold longstanding refugee protections by taking the following actions:

  1. Protect people who qualify for DACA and DAPA from deportations.
  2. Expand Temporary Protected Status to individuals in the U.S. from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
    Conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras more than justify a current TPS designation.
  3. Expand the CAM program.
    On December 1, 2014, the U.S. State Department announced the official launch of an in-country refugee processing program for some children in certain Central American countries known as the Central American Minor Program or “CAM”. The program allows parents with lawful presence in the United States to apply for their children living in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras to come to the United States as refugees through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Children who do not meet the definition of a refugee, but are still at risk of harm, may be eligible on a case-by-case basis to travel to the United States safely and legally as humanitarian parolees. We believe the CAM program is too limited in scope to meet current needs. At this time, the CAM program is available only to children determined to be in danger of persecution who have parents with lawful presence in the United States. This limited scope restricts protection to a very small segment of the children who desperately need it. We urge President Obama to expand eligibility for the CAM program to include vulnerable populations such as at-risk children and families without family members with lawful presence in the United States.
  4. Improve safety mechanisms for children and families applying for the CAM Program.
    Many children face danger when applying for the CAM program in their home country. We urge President Obama to put in place safety mechanisms to ensure child applicants and their families are safe while their cases make their way through the in-country application process, including providing transportation and safe shelter to applicants who live outside capital cities where processing takes place.
  5. Improve CAM application processing time.
    Currently, applicants must wait for several months to complete the CAM process. Processing times must be improved and an expedited processing system should be developed for high-risk cases.
  6. Engage community-based organizations on the CAM program.
    The Office of Refugee Resettlement lacks the necessary funding and resources to process CAM applications. We urge President Obama to direct his administration to partner with experienced, community-based organizations with deep roots and knowledge of the target community on the application process.
  7. We urge the U.S. government, in consultation with Central American partners, to develop a comprehensive regional humanitarian response plan.
    The U.S. government should work with Central American governments to address the root causes of the violence in Central America as well as strengthen the regional protection system so that children and migrants have better access to asylum, humanitarian visas and anti-trafficking systems across the region.
  8. Ensure due process protections are in place in accordance with traditional values of American justice.
    Individuals in adversarial proceedings should have an attorney. Expedited hearings for unaccompanied children and mothers with children, so-called “rocket dockets”, do not allow enough time to find an attorney or prepare their case. Every individual, including unaccompanied minors, should have legal representation in immigration proceedings – if necessary, at government expense.
  9. All individuals should receive appropriate screening for humanitarian relief by trained, experienced personnel.
    There are widespread reports of inadequate screening for asylum and other humanitarian relief by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. We urge President Obama to increase training and accountability mechanisms to ensure those seeking refuge receive adequate protections as required by international and domestic law.
  10. Appoint child advocates for vulnerable children.
    Federal law permits the appointment of child advocates for child trafficking victims and other vulnerable unaccompanied children. Their role is to advocate for the best interests, safety and well being of a child. Child advocates are particularly necessary for infants and toddlers who are too young to seek the advice of an attorney, or for other children who may lack capacity to make informed decisions about their cases.

Sincerely,

Cindy Estrada, Vice President, United Auto Workers International
Marge Faville Robinson, Service Employees International Union, Michigan State Council
Bishop Donald Kriess, Southeast Michigan Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
Bishop Craig Satterlee, Northwest Michigan Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
Bishop Wendell Gibbs, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
State Representative Stephanie Chang
Arturo Reyes, UAW 1-D CAP Council
AJ Freer, UAW Local 600, Dearborn
Rev. Fred Thelen, Cristo Rey Catholic Church, Lansing
Rev. Paul Perez, Office of Mission and Social Justice, Detroit Annual Conference, United Methodist Church
Rev. Mollie Clements, United Methodist Church, Kalamazoo
Rev. Matthew Bode, Spirit of Hope Lutheran Church, Detroit
Rev. Guilford Flatt, Bethel Luterhan Church, St. Clair Shores
Rev. John Negele, Christ Lutheran Church, Waterford
Rev. Scott Sessler, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Livonia
Rev. Sara Freudenberg, Trinity Lutheran Church, Ann Arbor
Rev. Alan Casillas, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Imlay City
Rev. Claudine Olivia, 1st Unitarian Universalist Church of Flint
Rev. Campbell Lovett, Michigan Conference, United Church of Christ
Sister Karen Donahue, Sisters of Mercy
Sister Sarah Nash, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters, Monroe
Professor James Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit
Joshua Dunn, Voces of Battle Creek
Professor Ruben Martinez, MI ALMA
Liz Balck, Justice for Our Neighbors, Grand Rapids
Ayesha Ghazi, Asian American Citizens for Justice
Margaret Harner, Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrants Rights
Anita Peek, Rosa Parks Institute
Commissioner Sonya Hernandez, Michigan Hispanic & Latino Commission
Susan Reed, Michigan Immigrants Rights Center
Katherine White, Immigration Connection, City Life Church
Theresa Tran, APIA – Vote
Sylvia Orduno, Michigan Welfare Rights
Garret Garcia, Michigan Dreamers
Lidia Reyes Flores, Latino Family Services, Detroit
Reem Subei, American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee
Ryan Bates, Michigan United
Gloria Rivera, Great Lakes Bioneers
Emily Diaz Torres, Michigan Immigrant Service Center
Peri Stone-Palquist, Student Advocacy Center, Ann Arbor
Progress Michigan
Nadia Tonova, National Network for Arab American Communities
John Philo, Sugar Law Center, Detroit

Groups gather in Detroit to honor, demand justice for Missouri teen Michael Brown

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From the Detroit News

On a day where many in the nation watched mourners at the funeral of a teen shot to death by a Missouri police officer earlier this month, community groups in Detroit held their own prayer vigil to honor the victim.

About 75 people gathered Monday evening in front of the McNamara Building in Detroit for the event called “To Ferguson from Detroit with Love” after Michael Brown was eulogized in St. Louis before more than 4,500 people.

The black 18-year-old was unarmed when he was shot to death by a white police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.

The local gathering was intended to show that Detroit cares and understands, said Elder Leslie Matthews from Triumphant Life Christian Church.

“Not only do we feel your pain, we’re asking, we’re demanding, and we’re going to walk, talk by whatever means necessary to get justice for Michael Brown,” Matthews said. “He doesn’t have a life anymore, but he can and he will get justice.”

Among those represented were other members of the clergy and organizations including Michigan United, Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and United Here. The attendees were diverse in religious background and race.

Several pastors led the group in prayer during the event, which lasted a little more than an hour. The vigil also included songs and a dance performance.

Some held signs that read “Justice for Michael Brown” and “Ferguson our prayers are with you.”

Sarah Terrien, 27, of Hamtramck said the shooting was unfair and confusing.

“We need to stand together to show support,” she said. “It could happen here. It could happen anywhere.”

cwilliams@detroitnews.com
(313) 222-2311