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Prayer Vigil for Immigration Reform
March 19, 2009
Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in a prayer vigil for immigration reform at the University of Nebraska at Omaha as part of the national Prayer, Renewal and Action on Immigration campaign. I took some photos at the event, which you can now check out on CLINIC’s Facebook page or Flickr account.
Two coworkers and I were in Omaha to lead a training on how communities can prepare for the devastating effects of raids before they happen. These trainings have proven to be incredibly useful to our affiliates and other service providers, as raids have the potential to create severe humanitarian crises in immigrant communities. In an instant, immigrants can be uprooted from their communities, separated from loved ones, and economically stripped of the basic necessities of survival.
Some of our local partners—including Nebraska Appleseed, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska and Catholic Charities of Omaha—realized that the Omaha training presented a unique opportunity for people concerned with immigration reform to gather in solidarity, show support for immigrants and pray for change. The vigil, which we decided to make an optional part of the CLINIC training, attracted about 25 people from diverse backgrounds and different states—as well as a camera crew from the local Fox News channel! Sister Maria Teresa Gaston led the introductory prayers, and then opened up the circle to everyone. Participants prayed for government understanding, just laws and public acceptance.
I found the experience to be incredibly powerful. The prayer vigil in Omaha was one of about 130 similar events held in 72 cities across the country during February. Some of these events attracted more than 100 attendees. Although our group was small, when we gathered to pray that day, we were participating in something that transcended the size and physical location of our group.
Tanisha Bowens is the raids project coordinator at CLINIC, where she is responsible for helping CLINIC affiliates and other community organizations to prepare for enforcement actions by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
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