Bearing witness to the injustice of their state's anti-immigration law, UCC members from Arizona will be among a large gathering expected next week in Washington, D.C., when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the case of United States vs. Arizona.
The court's ruling, expected in June, will determine whether the United States will have one immigration policy or 50. If the court rules to uphold Arizona's SB 1070, it will be upholding the state's attempt at state-directed discrimination, racial profiling by state and local law enforcement, and the tearing apart of immigrant families.
"My gut feeling is this court recognizes the national catastrophe that would emerge if long-standing federal legal precedent is overturned and each state is allowed to create its own immigration/deportation laws," said the Rev. Phil Reller, chair of the UCC Southwest Conference's justice and witness team and a leader in organizing Conference opposition to SB 1070.
"But if it's upheld, our whole country is in for a dreadful wave of bigotry and abuse towards immigrants and their families based on inaccurate perceptions and untrue messages from anti-immigrant proponents," added Reller, who will be part of the Arizona contingent in the nation's capital next week.
If recent court action is any indication, division on the issue couldn't be sharper, said David Mellott, a member of Church of the Beatitudes UCC in Phoenix who will accompany Reller on the trip.
"There have been 42 amicus briefs submitted on SB 1070," said Mellott. "Twenty have sided with the state of Arizona, and 22 have sided with the United States of America. Most of the amicus briefs supporting the state of Arizona's position, in my opinion, might not even be considered because they didn't produce anything new for the Court to mull over."
The Arizonans will help lead a 48-hour prayer vigil beginning at 10 a.m. (EDT) April 23 in front of the Supreme Court building.
On April 25, a press conference featuring leaders in civil rights, faith, labor, and business will focus on the impact of SB 1070 and copycat laws in their communities. Following the conference, a "Jericho March" around the Supreme Court will be marked by the sounds of trumpets in silent solidarity with those impacted by anti-immigrant laws.
The Supreme Court is set to begin hearing arguments around midday.
In addition to events in Washington, D.C., a nationwide show of solidarity against all anti-immigrant laws is expected next week, including in Alabama, where what many are calling the nation's harshest immigration law recently was debated by the state legislature.
Mobilizations are also being planned in Arizona, California, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
Contact Noel Anderson of Church World Service to learn more about solidarity events planned across the country.