Guest blog by: Will Coley Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. – Philippians 4:8 With so much news and information bombarding us each day, it’s good to take time to reflect on victories or “things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” It doesn’t often seem like there’s much to celebrate in our nation’s treatment of undocumented immigrants. But there are more and more stories of DREAM students and their supporters successfully challenging US deportation policies. That’s why I’m excited by the new community resource “Bernard’s Story.” This video is the story of how the town of Reading, Ohio united to keep their community together and stop the deportation of one DREAMer: Bernard Pastor. Read more about his story from a previous post here on g92.org: Making Room for DREAMers. Extra: Rev. Troy Jackson on Faith Response to Deportation from Bernard’s Story on Vimeo. Despite the anti-immigrant climate in rural Ohio, high school students and Evangelical Christian churches spoke out to keep Bernard in their community. While there were many things that made the community response to Bernard’s situation surprising, it is a noteworthy story that we can all learn from. It is for this reason that the Center for New Community designed an Action Guide for folks to use along with viewing the video with your community. Stories like Reading’s inspire me. Time and again, DREAM students have stood up, rallied supporters and successfully halted unjust policies enforced by the Obama Administration. Another example is the “Secure Communities“controversy. Earlier this month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement abruptly announced it was mandatorily implementing the program across the US. The ironically named “Secure Communities” program deputizes local police, takes their attention away from current responsibilities and enlists them in enforcing federal immigration law. Many police departments and state and county legislators oppose the program since it promotes racial profiling and undermines public trust. This past summer, in a series of public meetings across the country, a task force on the program met vocal opposition and boisterous walkouts. As a result, ICE was forced to reaffirm an earlier memorandum that it will use discretion when deciding cases like those of undocumented young people and their families. The development isn’t a perfect solution (ICE still needs to suspend the program) but it does show what happens when we challenge injustice in our community. The response of Reading and communities like it powerfully demonstrates how we can live out the teachings of Jesus’ parable of the Sheep and the Goats from Matthew 25: “… I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” I hope that “Bernard’s Story” will inspire others to remember Jesus’ call to welcome the stranger and stand up for our neighbors when they face injustice. You can learn more and download the Action Guide here: bernards-story.com Hold a screening of the video in your town and let us know how it turns out.
______________________________________________________________________Will Coley is a coffee-drinking, bike-riding, taco-loving, media-making social justice do-gooder originally from North Carolina now living in Los Angeles. He has been an advocate and organizer with immigrants and refugees in Charlotte, New York/Newark, and Los Angeles, as well as in Zimbabwe and Great Britain, for organizations including Catholic Charities, American Friends Service Committee and Jesuit Refugee Service. Through Aquifer Media, Wills designs social campaigns and digital storytelling for groups such as Detention Watch Network, Rights Working Group and Public Interest Projects. Please note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of everyone associated with G92 or any institutions with which the blogger may be affiliated. If you’re interested in writing a guest blog, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.