Friday, January 25, 2008

New Sanctuary Minute passed

The program committee of the Denver office of the American Friends Service Committee decided to approve a "minute" in support of the New Sanctuary Movement. In Quaker parlance, a "minute" is, essentially, an official statement. The minute will now be passed on to the Central Region Program Committee.

But what exactly is New Sanctuary? To see the courageous work immigrants and their allies in the faith community are doing around the country, check out:

Here is the context and the minute:

The New Sanctuary Movement
Introduction and Minute 2007
In the early 1980's, thousands of Central American refugees poured into the United States, fleeing life-threatening repression and extensive human rights violations by their governments.
At the time, federal immigration policy would have denied the majority political asylum simply because their governments were allies of the U.S. Many of these refugees had actively participated in the liberation theology movement and naturally sought support from congregations.
As faith communities across the country joined to offer protection to those fleeing their homelands, we, the American Friends Services Committee, were likewise called to respond to the injustice and inhumanity of our governments’ actions. We issued statements of concern and support, standing in solidarity with congregations united in the Sanctuary Movement.
Our efforts succeeded in overcoming suffering and injustice. Together we changed national policy and protected tens of thousands, enabling them to start a new life in the U.S.

Now, over 25 years later, faith communities across a broad spectrum of denominations are again joining to protest our government’s policies and protect those who have left their homelands. The human rights of immigrants are daily violated through acts of hatred, workplace discrimination and unjust deportation. We are moved to speak and to act.
In 1986, Jim Corbett, a Quaker and active participant in the Sanctuary Movement, observed, “Individuals can resist injustice, but only in community can we do justice.”
Through a community of congregations across the country, the Sanctuary Movement did, in fact, do justice, protecting human lives and changing national policy.
Today, a community has once again convened to pursue this vision of justice under the banner of the New Sanctuary Movement. As participants in the New Sanctuary Movement, we bear witness to the injustice that our immigrant brothers and sisters daily endure at the hands of government and society. We refuse to watch silently.
We, the American Friends Service Committee, believe that oppression in all its forms can give way. Just as Corbett suggested, we understand that we are stronger when we stand with all people, the poor and materially comfortable, the disenfranchised and the powerful, and those of other faiths. We hope to act with courage and vision in taking initiatives that may not be popular. For these reasons, we join with congregations around the country in the New Sanctuary Movement.
Our work is grounded in the Quaker testimonies, one of which is community. Our vision is that all life is interconnected, that there is that of God in everyone. Our communities include those who are like us and those who are different. Our vision of community welcomes the stranger because there is that of God in him or her. We recognize that immigrants are members of our communities throughout the U.S.
While immigrants are part of our communities, we recognize that U.S. policies have often unjustly forced them from their homelands. We recognize that U.S. economic and military presence abroad compromises the survival and safety of those who make the difficult decision to migrate.
We also recognize that U.S. policies at home are gravely unjust to immigrant members of our communities. We acknowledge that the same system that allows us to live in abundance and comfort, with inexpensive goods and services, necessitates the underpaid labor of immigrants. We have watched as immigrant families live in ever-greater fear of separation.
Our vision is that our country treat all people fairly, whether they live within or outside of its borders. This vision demands we not remain silent when our government espouses policies that impoverish, exploit and force people to live in fear.
Because our government has failed to protect immigrant members of our communities, to treat them justly and with integrity, we are called to oppose policies that threaten to overwhelm that which is precious in human beings. We join in the New Sanctuary Movement as a commitment to the immigrant members of our communities, to accompany and protect those facing injustice to our greatest ability.

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