Over fifteen New Hampshire UUs joined the Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Immigrant Justice this Tuesday, August 1 in Manchester.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP) and the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees organized this vigil in order to accompany those immigrants who had to come to the Manchester Federal Building for their monthly check in with Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE). The organizers report that there were around 100 people in attendance, which included members of many different faiths from across New Hampshire.
AFSC and GSOP organized the first Interfaith Prayer Vigil in June in response to the needs of the immigrant community in New Hampshire. Since January, immigrants from all corners of the Granite State have reported that they are less safe and secure. The vigil paid special attention to the families who are threatened by ICE, as there are many families whose parents are undocumented but whose children are American citizens.
By the end of the day, ICE had detained three family members and had commanded over twenty New Hampshire residents to report back in September with plane tickets to their respective home countries.
The Unitarian Universalist Association has long supported immigrants and refugees, including the Unitarians’ aid to refugees fleeing the Nazis. The UUA website states that now, “Just as love knows no borders, our dedication to justice reaches across boundaries and walls. We stand on the side of love with all families, regardless of citizenship status, and strive to create welcoming communities and congregations.”
During the vigil, Reverend Allison Palm of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Nashua opened the vigil with a prayer calling for justice for all immigrants, regardless of their documentation status. Reverend Patrick McLaughlin of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Manchester read the poem “Home” by Warsan Shire and then led the attendees in a “Jericho Walk” around the Federal Building. Reverend McLaughlin explained that just as Joshua led a walk around Jericho to fulfill his covenant with God, so those gathered walked around the Federal Building to fulfill our covenant with each other to establish justice in the nation. Other speakers included Reverend Maren Tirabassi of the United Church of Christ Church of Madbury, Father Joseph Gurdak of the St. Anne-St. Augustin Parish in Manchester and Reverend Jon Hopkins of the Concordia Lutheran Church of Concord.
AFSC, GSOP and other organizations are currently working to support those whom ICE has detained. They are also planning to hold another Interfaith Prayer Vigil on Tuesday, September 5, at 8:30 AM. The location is again the Federal Building, 275 Chestnut Street, Manchester.
From left to right: members of the UU Church of Nashua; ; Reverends Allison Palm and Patrick McLaughlin, and ministerial candidate Kali Fyre; Reverend McLaughlin address the vigil; Reverend Palm begins the vigil with a prayer.