Written by Emily Mullins
Congress may be on August recess, but immigration reform supporters are urging congregations to keep advocating for change. Through a campaign sponsored by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, churches throughout the country are encouraged to post unique messages in support of immigration reform on signs outside of their buildings. Called Signs of Change, the initiative aims to keep immigration top of mind during the summer lull in Washington, D.C., and spread the word that the faith community hasn't forgotten what it's been fighting for.
"The goal is to provide a public witness with a faith message in support of immigrant rights," said Jennifer Toth, a representative from the IIC. "The sign and message could be directed at your congressional representative, or it could be a sign of solidarity with our immigrant community members."
Congregations can email photos of their signs to the IIC at firstname.lastname@example.org or post them on the organization's Facebook page. Each posted photo will then be voted on by the faith community through the month of August. Two members from the congregation with the photo that receives the most votes will win a free trip to Washington, D.C., for the next big advocacy day on immigration reform.
"The sooner a church sends in a photo, the more time they have to collect social media votes," said Sidney Traynham, social media coordinator for the IIC.
Churches without movable-type signs can participate by creating a banner to hang outside of their building. While congregations are encouraged to be creative, some sample messages offered by the IIC include: "The Bible: God's Handbook to Welcome Immigrants," "Our faith calls us to love all our neighbors: Immigration Reform Now," or "Jesus was Undocumented – We're Praying for Citizenship Now."
The IIC offers an August Recess Toolkit that includes other ideas for congregations to keep working toward immigration reform while government representatives are in their home districts. Suggested actions include congressional visits and letter drops, representation at Town Hall meetings, and sermons and prayers for reform. Download a copy of the toolkit at the IIC's website.
"People of faith have been extremely important in organizing thousands of congressional visits, prayer vigils, creative actions, and phone calls to urge members of Congress to support immigration reform," the toolkit states. "Congress will be in their home districts Aug. 2 to Sept. 8, and we know that anti-immigrant groups will be mobilized more than ever to get Congress to drop immigration reform. We can't let anti-immigrant groups win the 'space' we have created in the public or in Congress. We must maintain our momentum and make sure Congress hears that they must enact immigration reform that reunites families and creates a path to citizenship – and they must act now."