WES Blog — Families Belong Together Rally

These last few weeks whenever I watched the news I would be filled with a bit of dread. I doubt that I’m alone. We look to see a nation that reflects our values, and we are too often disappointed. The administration’s travel ban gets upheld, an upcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court forces us all to fear about what could come next, and the immigration policy of detaining children and separating families breaks our hearts and sets our teeth on edge. It is too much.


Each new story breaks our heart all over again. We ask ourselves about how all of this can be happening. At some level, we know that injustices have always happened. Some of us were able to ignore it before, and others never had that luxury. Now there are no excuses. We have to pay attention and make our voices heard.

It can be overwhelming. It is exhausting.


Then we have days like this last Saturday when people across the country show up and demand a more hopeful tomorrow. This last Saturday, June 30th, in cities across the country people joined together for the movement for immigration justice and to say “Families Belong Together.” This slogan was chanted and cheered from coast to coast. Here in DC, thousands of people turned up to rally at Lafayette Square Park to show their support. So many people turned up that a secondary rally was held at Farragut Square to hold the spillover.


I was thrilled to be there that morning with folks from The Washington Ethical Society. I only realized afterward that this rally was my first public role as the Sabbatical Clergy. The crowds were too big for all the WES folks to find each other. Which meant we never got a giant group photo, but it also meant that we got to interact with more people and hopefully continue to build connections with others.


The Families Belong Together rallies remind us that our hearts aren’t the only ones breaking. We see that thousands upon thousands of people want a more loving country. There is an energy out there that wants change and is not afraid to demand it. We at WES seek it and work towards it, and there are countless potential partners in that work. For one day, the national narrative focused on this movement and the demand for humane treatment of all people. It is hope.


I love rallies and marches. I love seeing that energy and momentum. How do we build off it?


Before Amanda left on Sabbatical, we sent out an email with a few ways to get involved in the cause for immigration justice, and I’d like to repeat those ways now.


“Sanctuary DMV – This group is working with local congregations to support immigrants in the DC area, including showing up at rallies and accompanying individuals at their ICE hearings. Contact: Ross Wells, rosswells@starpower.net.  


Support for Monika – WES is supporting Monika, a political asylum seeker who has been staying with WES members. As the date for Monika’s asylum hearing approaches, she will need folks to show up and make clear to ICE that a community is in her corner. Contact: Vanessa Austin, rajyogini@gmail.com.  


Washington Interfaith Network – Immigration is one of the key issues areas for WIN, a collection of 40+ congregations and associations in the District of Columbia. Work here revolves around ensuring that DC provides adequate funding for legal support of immigrants, and that it maintains and strengthens its status as a Sanctuary City. Engagement looks like showing up at local and city-wide actions, and meeting with public officials and with the impacted immigrants who are leading the work. Contact: Aylin Gencturk, agenctur@gmail.com and Arleen Vargas, arleen.vargas4@gmail.com.  


Immigration Film Fest – WES will be hosting the fifth Immigration Film Fest, which focuses on education and inspiration for advocacy, on Saturday, October 27. Each year, the Film Fest brings accurate information about immigration, through the artistry of mostly immigrant filmmakers, to the general public. The volunteer organizers of the Immigration Film Fest would greatly appreciate time-limited participation by members and friends of WES in various volunteer roles, during the countdown to October 27, and on that Saturday. Contact: Katherine O’Kester, okesterkat@earthlink.net.”