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Standing with Immigrants in Bangor, ME

Posted by Erin Bechtol

Remarks shared by Mary Ellen Quinn, a Campaign Nonviolence Action organizer, at an Immigration Rights Rally in Bangor, ME on February 3, 2018


My name is Mary Ellen Quinn, I serve as Co-Coordinator of Pax Christi Maine, the Catholic Peace and Justice Movement. As a Christian and a faithful student of the nonviolent Jesus, I am called to stand with you all on this bright, wintry day.  

Each one of us here today is here for a reason. Each one of us feels compelled to be here standing in solidarity, side by side with our sisters and brothers experiencing intimidation, harassment, and fear.

We are all immigrants and refugees. Your struggle is our struggle. Each of us has a story to share. I am the granddaughter of people who immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900’s. Desperate people who fled Ireland, a country occupied by a brutal invader, a country where people were oppressed, persecuted, torn from their land, treated as less than human and literally starved to death.

Those who could flee, did. They came in waves across the sea risking life and limb to escape the violence and hatred, to seek a new opportunity, to build a better life for themselves and their families.

We live and work side by side with immigrants with in this country, many who have been here for decades, who have fled similar circumstances in their homeland. Often their migration is forced, caused by war, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty, and inhumane living conditions. They have come to this country to improve their lives and provide for their families.

Today we are immersed in a political environment which targets immigrants and refugees and the targeting is increasing in its scope and intensity. The agenda is to marginalize people, to paint a picture of them as criminals, as dangerous to our communities. The fear infused rhetoric urges us to see them as ‘the other’, different from us but this is not the truth. We are all immigrants and refugees.

What is our responsibility to our sisters and brothers among us?

The protection of refugees and immigrants is a moral imperative. I believe that our faith communities must be vocal and visible in this effort. Today, I call upon all people of conscience, people of faith from all traditions to embrace the call to love one another, to see our interconnectedness. Our common value is our commitment to the protection of human rights, of civil rights, the right of individuals and families to migrate, to seek new opportunities.

It is critical that each of us reflect upon the reason why we came here today. There we will connect with our passion, our heart for justice!

The times we are in do not allow for silence or complacency or a belief that somehow this will all pass in time. It is our responsibility to do whatever we can. We are one human family. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. . . . Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

To continue this work we must gain strength from one another, to form community, to share our stories. We can draw upon the strength of our faith traditions, of our principles, values and convictions so we do not fall prey to the fear mongering.

Most importantly we must continue to raise our voices in opposition to policies and practices that inflict suffering, separate families, target vulnerable communities.

Resistance is an instrument of peace. As we resist, we must also hold a vision of a world infused with the love of neighbor, a new culture of peace and nonviolence where all people’s lives are held sacred.

Thank you for being here today! Your presence demonstrates courage, inspires others and strengthens our spirit of solidarity.

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