CAIR Coalition

November 3, 2009

After the Immigration Ready Bench gathering had ended, I spent the night in DC with friends and the next morning attended a training/orientation at an organization called CAIR Coalition.

Taken directly off of their website, a brief description of CAIR:

“CAIR Coalition brings together community groups, pro bono attorneys, volunteers and immigrants from the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland working to ensure that all immigrants are treated with fairness, dignity and respect for their human and civil rights”.

As a CAIR volunteer I will be going on visits to immigration detention centers to assistant with “intake”. This all means that I will be available to meet with people and gather information about their situations, helping CAIR to assess whether or not this person may be eligible for any type of special visa or pro bono representation. I will keep you posted as I begin volunteering.

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Pastor David Vasquez

November 3, 2009

Pastor David Vasquez is an incredible man, and a good friend of LIRS! I had the honor of meeting him last week at the Immigration Ready Bench in Washington DC (see post below). He is the campus pastor for Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and is currently taking his sabbatical. He is spending his time traveling around to different communities, beginning discussions through the reading of Scripture. He is asking questions especially in regards to the interaction between the Bible and immigration (which, is VERY significant). Follow him on his journey: http://faithonthemove.ning.com.

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The Rev. David Vasquez, Campus Pastor, Luther College

Friends, my greatest apologies for my recent lack of “blogging presence”. To say that the past week of life has been busy would be putting it lightly. It all began last Wednesday, as I woke up at 6:30am to make the trek from Baltimore down to Washington DC. Wednesday and Thursday I would get to participate in a conversation with attendees of the “Immigration Ready Bench” gathering; essentially, a two-day meeting in which Lutheran bishops and pastors (both ELCA and LCMS) from around the country would gather together and participate in both training and discussion surrounding our broken immigration system and policies. The Immigration Ready Bench would gather to discuss and support comprehensive immigration reform.  Sessions were to be held with the special intent of ending our time together by participating in visits and conversations with different members of Congress regarding the construction of this bill.

I must be honest with you; this two-day event was without a doubt in my mind an absolute success. To meet bishops and leaders with such passion placed upon the importance and significance of knowing and understanding the common humanity and dignity of all persons was, most simply put, beautiful.

My favorite part of the Immigration Ready Bench gathering was getting to interact with the bishops and leaders in attendance. My role throughout this event was to take both video and audio footage of the meetings and individuals, as well as capture the two days through a series of still images. I was given the opportunity to speak one-on-one with many of the bishops about immigration and refugee issues, as well as our own personal stories and experiences.  I learned a great deal about the wide variety of events in one’s life that may lead them to speak out boldly for comprehensive immigration reform and on issues of equality. I was able to share with many of my new friends parts of my personal journey as a recent college graduate with a degree in theology. I received terrific advice on tons of different seminaries to check out, as well as a number of fabulous book recommendations!

Through reflection on my time spent with the Immigration Ready Bench, something that I continue to be amazed with is the absolute connectedness that we experience with one another through the commonality of a shared story. Upon listening to and sharing stories with one another we may find our experiences to be strikingly similar to others in seemingly unlikely places and circumstances.

Below are a few photos that I took while snapping pictures at the Immigration Ready Bench gathering.

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Bishop Julian Gordy, ELCA; Bishop Steve Talmage, ELCA; Sen. Harry Reid (NV); Bishop Gerald L. Mansholt, ELCA

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Victor Thasiah, ELCA; Bishop Gerald L. Mansholt, ELCA; Bishop Wayne Miller, ELCA; Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL-4); Bishop Julian Gordy, ELCA; Bishop Steve Talmage, ELCA

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Bishop Steve Talmage, Grand Canyon Synod, ELCA; Bishop Wayne Miller, Metro Chicago Synod, ELCA; Bishop Julian Gordy, Southeastern Synod and Convener of the ELCA Immigration Ready Bench

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