Friday, July 3, 2015

Immigrant Detention Vigil by Silvia Brandon Pérez, ARCWP

July 4, 2015, 11am-12pm
West County Detention Facility
5555 Giant Highway, Richmond, CA

This vigil is dedicated to Jim Forsyth, who passed from this life on July 4th, 2013, and who attended our vigils and meetings from their inception.  Jim Forsyth, presente!

Welcome – Bienvenida – Silvia Brandon Pérez

Most of us know the story of a child born to a poor family in a forgotten village in occupied land. A family forced to flee persecution, seeking asylum in a neighboring country as so many other so-called “illegal aliens;” a family living the life of the poor, the anawîm. The child, grown to be a man, speaking for the poor and against the excesses of empire, tortured and killed as a political criminal.  Today we are experiencing the excesses of empire as perhaps never before, torturing and killing with new technology, but always with the approval of the state, justifying our deeds with the seal of the so-called “law.”  It is time to turn the tables and rid our world of the merchants of greed and death by our constant nonviolent witness. 

·        Psalm 121

I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

·        I welcome all of you who have come to this event to a very short introduction.

·        Exodus 2 

A man from Levi’s family married a Levite woman.  The woman became pregnant and had a son. She saw how beautiful he was and hid him for three months. When she couldn’t hide him any longer, she took a basket made of papyrus plants and coated it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in it and set it among the papyrus plants near the bank of the Nile River. Pharaoh’s daughter opened the basket, looked at the baby, and saw it was a boy. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. She said, “This is one of the Hebrew children.”
Today, women and men from other shores are sending their children away to save their lives.  They come to us, wanting safety and food and the love of the stranger. 

·        1 Kings 8:41-43
We are like foreigners, O God, who have come from a distant land because of your great name, because of your mighty hand, your outstretched arm.  Enfold us now, O God, not as strangers, but as beloved children. Amen.
"When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall do them no wrong, the strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as natives among you, and you love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."  —Leviticus 19:33-34
Hymn: Here I Am, Lord

Now we will hear Carolyn Scarr recite her beautiful poem about the immigration interview, more than 2000 years ago, of that poor family.  The text of the poem is in our song sheet.

·        Sharing by Iris on the fourth of July:

Thank you all for coming to this morning’s vigil on the 4th of July - the day of this nation’s independence. The US prides itself in freedom, liberty, and justice for all, but today, we ask ourselves - justice for whom? As we listen to these testimonies, let’s keep in mind that these narratives are often told, but not often really heard. My prayer is that we be able to listen with our ears, minds, and hearts to the ways these unjust immigration laws have affected those in our community, because when one part of the body hurts, we all hurt.

·         The poem The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus, stands permanently inscribed in the Statue of Liberty, which we remember on this 4th of July:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

·        Sharing by Jake: Pride & LGBTQ immigrant detention

·        From the Responsive reading based on the DECLARATION OF IMMIGRANT RIGHTS from Annunciation House, El Paso, TX
L:      We are a nation of immigrants. We come together from the four corners of the earth.
R:      We come from Mexico and the Philippines, from Central America, Ireland, Ethiopia and Iraq. We come to escape poverty and violence, fear, war, discrimination, political suppression and economic hardship.
L:      We leave behind parents and children and the skies of our homelands. We bring with us languages, photographs, telephone numbers, backpacks, stories, and hopes.
R:      We have walked day and night through the desert to cross the frontera. We have waited on the far side for papers to go through. We have hopped trains, seen companions fall, have put our trust in and been abandoned by coyotes—human smugglers. We are the ones who have arrived.
L:      We have been called illegals, mojados, aliens and terrorists. We are rounded up at work, leaving our children stranded. We are imprisoned and deported from the cities where we have lived for decades.
R:      We are math teachers and dishwashers, carpenters, translators, painters of portraits and of houses. We pick the apples in Yakima, Washington. We wash your dishes in restaurants in Minnesota. We rebuild houses in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We pay taxes out of our salaries.
L:      We send our children to school, wanting them to learn and succeed and to be safe. Neither do we forget the family members we have left in our birth countries: we work hard to support them as well. In some places we are invisible. But look for us—we are here. We are twelve million strong.
R:      We contribute our labor, our children, the rich textures of our cultures, and a chance for each of us—we and you—to learn compassion and wisdom through encountering the stranger. But we must be strangers no longer.
All:     We are your grandparents and your sons- and daughters-in-law, your past and your future. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we affirm our humanity, dignity, and value. As children of one God, as heirs of one earth, we assert our rights. 
·        We are a motley crew of people from many faiths, colors, creeds, lands.  All the sacred books constrain us to welcome the stranger in our midst.
"[Lord,] when did we see you a stranger and invite you in?" The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
—Matthew 25: 38, 40
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
—Hebrews 13:2
"For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
—Galatians 5:13-14
" are no longer strangers and sojourners but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God."
—Ephesians 2:11-21
"And let not those who possess dignity and ease among you swear not to give to the near of kind and to the needy, and to refugees for the cause of God. Let them forgive and show indulgence."
—Qur'an 24:22
"And do good unto your parents, and near of kin, and unto orphans, and the needy, and the neighbour from among your own people, and the neighbor who is a stranger, and the friend by your side, and the wayfarer, and those whom you rightfully possess. Verily, God does not love any of those who, full of self-conceit, act in a boastful manner..."
— Qur'an An-Nisa 4:36
"Those who believed and adopted exile and fought for the Faith, with their property and their persons, in the cause of Allah, as well as those who gave (them) asylum and aid—these are (all) friends and protectors, one of another."
— Qur'an Al Anfal 8:72

Prayers from the Stranger for the Stranger to the Stranger (the Tikkun community)
O God, remind us that we are part of a whole, part of the land or our ancestry and your future, that we are both bordered and unbordered people, national and trans-national, wound and unwound people. Let us be citizens of a globe, where love and respect have just borders. Amen.
We pray to the Spirit and the Forces that created the globe. No matter whether our tradition began with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Sara, or Ishmael and Hagar, or the immigrants standing at the manger, or in a manifestation as deep as the heart’s longing for understanding, still, hear our prayer for the displaced and misplaced. We are each hosts and guests, strangers and friends, on an increasingly small globe that has its source in you. Bind us together in the arts of mutual welcome and understanding. Amen.
Let us get by through the kindness of strangers, and help us make sure we know who the stranger really is. Teach us to think globally from the safety of our own back yard – so that we may learn to be truly safe. Amen
Prayer for Our Immigrant Sisters and Brothers, from Pax Christi

Blessed are You, Lord Jesus Christ.
You crossed every border
between Divinity and humanity
to make your home with us.
Help us to welcome you in newcomers,
migrants and refugees.

Blessed are You, God of all nations.
You bless our land richly
with goods of creation
and with people made in your image.
Help us to be good stewards and peacemakers,
who live as your children.

Blessed are You, Holy Spirit.
You work in the hearts of all
to bring about harmony and goodwill.
Strengthen us to welcome those
from other lands, cultures, religions,
that we may live in human solidarity
and in hope.

God of all people, grant us vision
to see your presence in our midst,
especially in our immigrant sisters and brothers.
Give us courage to open the door to our neighbors
and grace to build a society of justice.
Song: Paz y libertad

·        Witness by any people who want to share experiences of immigration detention

·        Prayers of the people to be answered by:  Lord, hear our prayer

·        Noise

Ending hymn:  Amazing Grace

This vigil was brought to you by the Ecumenical Peace Institute and the South Hayward Parish, with the help of our musicians, Patti Connors,
José Daniel Pinell, Daniel Zwiekel ben Avrám and myself, and the collaboration of EBASE/FAME interns, David, Iris and Jake.  Thank you to all who attended!

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