LONG BEACH — After the final vote by the Senate to pass a large immigration reform, religious leaders from the United Church of Christ Synod rallied July 1 in Long Beach.
Demonstrators marched from the Long Beach Convention Center to the local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, Long Beach City Hall and the office of Rep. Alan Lowenthal calling for immigration justice, family unity and the full inclusion and protection of workers.
At the office of Immigration Customs and Enforcement Rev. Mari Castellano of the UCC Washington, D.C. Advocacy Office sprinkled holy water calling for the cleansing and transformation of ICE. At City Hall Distinguished national clergy leaders washed the feet of immigrants.
Finally, at Rep. Lowenthal’s Office, Rev. Linda Jaramillo the Executive Minister of Justice and Witness broke bread and shared it to symbolize the full inclusion of all immigrants at the table.
Clergy, community leaders and impacted individuals joined in symbolic ritual, prayer and singing to voice opposition to what they believe are harsh immigration enforcement policies that have left 1.4 million people deported within the past four years, causing thousands of family separations.
“It is powerful to see so many organizations working together to reform the policies that are currently broken,” Rev. Noel Andersen, a UCC pastor, said. “Today organizers, pastors, lay leaders, DREAMers and local activists are demanding to stop the deportations, keep families together, and pass a compassionate immigration reform in the House of Representatives now.”
Church World Service, the Long Beach Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice network including CLUE-LA, CLUE-OC, CLUE-CA and CLUE Northern California all helped organize the event.
This year more than 5,000 delegates of the one-million-member United Church of Christ gathered in Long Beach for their 2013 annual General Synod.