Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Here's a video clip of knucklehead Kevin McCarthy who shamelessly tried to defend himself for not meeting with the pilgrims (including me) who walked 285 miles in 21 days to meet him in his district at his office. And, yet he has the audacity to try to pivot the discussion from immigration reform to my fellow pilgrim Prof. Gonzalo Santos. In a video response, my dear brother Prof. Santos not only graciously responds to Kevin McCarthy's lame attempts but also sets the record straight by explaining why comprehensive immigration reform is long over due in our country. Si Se Peude.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Walking the Prophetic Walk for a Pathway to Citizenship
Walking the Prophetic Walk for a Pathway to Citizenship
(also published at another site)
Over the last 30 years, I have worked on many different social justice issues as a central passion in my life. This call to work for social justice is deeply rooted in my faith as a Muslim, and it is this call I have tried to serve since 2005 as the executive director of the Shura Council of Southern California, which is an umbrella association of Mosques and Muslim organizations serving Muslims living in Southern California and society at large.
For more than a millennium, my faith has taught that “when you see a wrong, right it.”
This mandate is without an option for neutrality, let alone apathy.  The choices to right the wrong includes, “action,” “speech” or “empathy,” in that order. Action is considered to be the strongest demonstration of faith while empathy, though admirable is considered as the weakest expression of the faithful.  A central part of our history as Muslims is the migration of the Prophet Muhammad, where he was forced to leave his home and family to seek freedom, justice and peace for all. These teachings, urging me to right wrongs with action and to seek peace by leaving behind home and homeland give me incredible peace as a Muslim.
Central to this call to work for social justice has been my own journey as an immigrant to the United States. I came from India in 1985 and ever since, by watching the journeys of my friends and family members, and through my work in the interfaith community, I have seen the ways that our current immigration system tears families apart. This is especially true for the 11 million aspiring Americans living in this country whose status is uncertain –people of diverse national origin and religious backgrounds, who are often exploited by corporations and often the law with very little if any recourse. They are hardworking people who are forced to live in constant fear of being separated from their families.
For almost two decades, our nation’s indifference toward these undocumented Americans who are freely exploited from the valleys of California to the shores of Maine has left me agitated, unable to be at peace. During these last 20 years, the poor and those without legal status have become poorer and more powerless while the rich have become richer and more indifferent. I saw this wrong; I struggled with how to right it. Peace eluded me. Indeed I have also seen how the policies of this countries broken immigration system have also affected the Muslim community unfairly, as was recently revealed in an ACLU report which exposed the previously unknown national security program known as the “Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program,” where the government purposely and illegally excludes many applicants from Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities from these opportunities by delaying and denying their applications without authority.
My agitation as a naturalized United States citizen and as a person of faith, I believe now morally binds me to the more than 11 million mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons of myriad faiths and diverse traditions who are aspiring Americans and all those who suffer from unjust immigration policies. Following the legacy and example of the Prophet Muhammad, I decided that I too must become a Pilgrim for the sake of freedom I decided to join the Pilgrimage for a Pathway to Citizenship and walk 111 miles in solidarity with and dignity for the 11 million aspiring Americans yearning for full citizenship and enfranchisement in our great nation.
I walked with my fellow Pilgrims, learned their stories, and shared mine with them.  We are all immigrants, all Americans. Together, we walked, prayed and broke bread. We sang and sometimes, we wept. But for the 10 days on the Pilgrimage for a Pathway to Citizenship, rain or shine, we walked as one—walking for respect and dignity, demanding equality and fair treatment.
Walking is prophetic. On this journey it was my prayer, that we walked in the tradition of Moses who walked out of Pharaoh’s land to free the oppressed. We will walk in the tradition of Jesus who walked to Jerusalem and protested oppressors. And, I will also walk in the tradition of Muhammad who walked from his birthplace to a city afar, for a better tomorrow of his people.
My prayer in downtown Visalia before visiting the office of Congressman Devin Nunes asking him for his support for Pathway to

My prayer in downtown Visalia on August 27, 2013, before visiting the office of Congressman Devin Nunes asking him for his support for Pathway to Citizenship.

With me were my 14 pilgrim comrades & also Roberto Bustos, the Capitan of the historic 1966 March that was organized by late Cesar Chavez in support of Delano grape farm workers. They had walked from Delano to Sacramento in 1966 and we walked from Sacramento to Bakersfield in 2013. Injustice continues and so does our struggle for justice! 


Dear God:

We have gathered here today as your witness and as a witness to the dreams and aspirations of our 11 million brothers & sisters.

We embrace each one of them and their loved ones as our brothers and as our sisters.

We join them and pray with them for their demand of a "pathway to citizenship."

Dear God ... the very creation of our nation was meant to glorify your name, freely, and

to pursue opportunities for a better tomorrow and to also live with dignity, honor and freedom from the tyranny of the oppressors.

Dear God ... we stand here today as people of diverse faiths but a community of conscience who believe that -

You, O Dear God, never ask us for papers, but the ungodly people do.

Dear God, we also know that Your mercy and grace is all inclusive -

You  embrace everyone with Your infinite love, and so do we ...

May "they" come to live and/or work from the shores of the Atlantic or the Pacific

by Sea or by Land, or

may we call them "naturalized" or "aliens" -

we as your devoted servants, welcome them in our hearts and in our neighborhoods, and

we welcome them with our unconditional love and respect, just as you do.

Dear God ... we pray that in this land of all colors and many languages -

ALL of them - ALL of them have only one status, and that

they are YOUR creation - You created them equally and

You have endowed upon all - honor and dignity.

So today our dear Lord, we stand in front of you,

asking you of Your Grace and Mercy upon all of us

Bless us today and tomorrow with the strength

to keep on walking and

to keep on fighting for the

Pathway to Citizenship.