The Immigrant and Racial Justice action group acts for justice in immigration policies and race relations. By educating our church community and working with community partners, we advocate for humane, sensible immigration policies and the elimination of both individual and systemic racism in our country.
This group grew out of the Organizing for Justice Committee building on the ideas from the Unitarian Universalist Association “Immigration as a Moral Issue” course offered at First Church in early 2011. At the end of that course, participants brainstormed ideas for addressing issues raised by that course. The most compelling idea involved visiting immigrants in detention. That led to the development of SOLACE (Souls Offering Loving And Compassionate Ears), the interfaith program of volunteers who began visiting persons detained at the regional Otay Immigrant Detention facility in September, 2012.
While developing SOLACE, the group continued to work on other immigration and related injustices, providing special trainings on the Doctrine of Discovery, on Love in Action, and maintaining partnerships with other community groups such as the San Diego Organizing Project, Alliance San Diego, and the San Diego Table for Immigration Polity advocating for just immigration policies and related projects.
The #Black Lives Matter movement impelled members of our group to add racial justice to our work. The church has had a long history of working toward being inclusive and welcoming to all. For many years Journey Toward Wholeness, now know as ROAR with SOUL, presented undoing racism workshops and on-going education for the congregation. Additionally, one of our partner community organizations, the San Diego Organizing Project provided a “Building Multicultural Power” workshop and racism study circles in which many members participated.
As the Black Lives Matter Movement grew around the country, Rev. Jennifer Channin conducted a series of congregation-wide discussions called “Courageous Conversations” which enabled many members to raise their awareness level of all the issues caused by racism. The Social Justice Ministry Team received the support of the church’s Board of Trustees to display a “Black Lives Matter” banner on both campuses.
The immigrant and racial justice work and activities have led to transformed lives and strong relationships among group members, within and outside the Church. The IRJ action group invites everyone interested in promoting justice through several projects:
1. Visit immigrants and asylum seekers through SOLACE;
2. Work with the Organizing for Justice Committee, SDOP and partner organizations for research, actions, and advocacy.
3. Support local and state-wide actions, such as Immigrant Day in Sacramento and #Black Lives Matter.
4. Attend conferences and trainings
5. Volunteer at citizenship and related workshops organized by partner organizations.
6. Facilitate a monthly reading group which is studying the history of racism and white privilege and how white allies of the #Black Lives Matter movement can help to dismantle and eliminate racism in our lives.
7. Advocate for immigrant and racial justice with elected officials and community leaders.