For Immediate Release
Cynthia Brooke, Communications Director
Interfaith Worker Justice
(773) 728-8400 ext. 40
Faith Leaders Flock to Arizona to Oppose SB-1070, Launch Coordinated Nationwide Weekend of Protest
NATIONWIDE - Hundreds of people of faith in Arizona and
in communities across the country are standing together to oppose
Arizona's anti-immigrant law SB-1070 with a nationwide weekend of
coordinated prayer and action. Part of the law goes into effect today,
while other provisions were temporarily blocked by a federal judge in
Arizona yesterday. At an interfaith prayer vigil this morning in
Phoenix, and at events in more than a dozen cities across the country,
people of faith denounced punitive laws that divide families and
communities, called for an end to SB-1070 and similar legislation in
other states, and urged immediate action from Congress to pass sorely
needed comprehensive immigration reform.
"We have come to Arizona to protest SB-1070 because we know that
worker rights and immigrant rights are integrally linked... we need
comprehensive immigration reform," said Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice.
She said that while religious leaders are heartened that some of the
most troubling provisions in the legislation were set aside today with
the preliminary injunction, there is still far more work to be done. "It
in no way changes the fact that we need comprehensive immigration
reform and there are still serious problems with the Arizona
The weekend mobilization, the National Weekend of Prayer and Action for Immigrant Justice,
will take place July 29- August 1 in Chicago; Oakland; Cincinnati;
Milwaukee; Toledo; San Francisco; New York City; Houston; Philadelphia;
Charlotte, North Carolina; and Albany, New York and is coordinated by
Interfaith Worker Justice. Actions include marches, rallies, prayer
vigils, civil disobedience, educational forums, and worship services,
sermons, and homilies about immigration, as hundreds voice their
opposition to SB-1070 and demand a just solution to the broken
immigration system that gave rise to this draconian law.
In Arizona, people of faith gathered at Trinity Episcopal
Cathedral in Phoenix for a prayer vigil today at 6 a.m., which will be
followed by a press conference with national faith leaders at 7:30 a.m.,
a 9 a.m. rally at the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse in
downtown Phoenix and a 5 p.m. interfaith vigil at the state capitol.
Rev. Trina Zelle, director of the Arizona Interfaith Alliance for Worker Justice
and Presbyterian minister, shared her on-the-ground perspective as a
resident of Arizona who works with workers and families who are being
exploited by a broken immigration system and punitive legislative that
has already led to fear and division.
"People are living in fear, afraid to go to work and church, or
to leave their home at all. Since April 23, I have heard from people ...
who have been stopped and had their citizenship challenged on the basis
that they're Hispanic," Rev. Zelle said. "SB 1070 is dehumanizing and
violates our human rights. I believe it grieves God. All of us in
Arizona are grateful for the outpouring of support and solidarity from
people around the country.
"We join with people of faith everywhere who are calling for comprehensive immigration reform," said Rev. Peter Morales,
president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. "Beyond that, we
want to participate in an effort to change the hearts and minds of
people. Our public policy ought to represent our most humane values not
our narrowest fears. This is a struggle for America's soul. Will we
operate out of fear, or out of hope? Will we retrench into racial
profiling... or move forward with optimism and acceptance into a
multiracial and multicultural future?"
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Rev. Morales will join with other national leaders at this
morning's press conference in Phoenix, making a strong moral case for
stopping the spread of anti-immigrant legislation at the state level and
urging the federal government to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
One of the most heinous parts of the legislation, which has been
temporarily blocked by today's ruling on the preliminary injunction,
instructs law enforcement officers to stop any individual they suspect
of being undocumented, a requirement rife with potential for abuse and
racial profiling. "I join with brothers and sisters from the interfaith
community to voice opposition to SB-1070," said Hussam Ayloush,
Executive Director of the Southern California Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "As a Muslim, I can personally
attest to the destructive nature on racial profiling on my community. I
refuse to see this unjust and un-American practice in the form of
SB1070. It is an ill-advised and extremely ineffective way to fix the
country's broken immigration system."
This weekend's nationwide actions build on months of religious
activity from Interfaith Worker Justice and the Interfaith Immigration
Coalition in support of immigration reform and in opposition to
regressive state laws like SB-1070 and similar prospective legislation
across the country. In July, IWJ's Memphis chapter held a prayer vigil
to stand in solidarity with immigrants in Arizona and call on elected
officials in Tennessee to reject copycat legislation being considered.
The Arizona Interfaith Alliance for Worker Justice has also been working
around-the-clock since SB-1070 was signed into law to protect Arizonan
workers and families and oppose the legislation.
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Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) calls upon our religious values in order to educate, organize, and mobilize the religious community in the U.S. on issues and campaigns that will improve wages, benefits, and working conditions for workers, especially low-wage workers.