The Immigration Action Coalition (IAC) was formed in 2014 in response to the 150th Anniversary Service, “Welcoming the Stranger.”

We meet via Zoom on the second Saturday of each month from 10:00 -11:30am. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information or to request the zoom link for our next meeting.

We the members of the Immigration Action Coalition covenant to work together to educate ourselves and others about immigration issues; to advocate for immigration policy reform; and to act in support of justice for our immigrant community. We pledge our energies and our resources to creating a world where the inherent worth and dignity of every person, regardless of immigration status, is respected and all are welcomed. We will follow the lead of the immigrant community in prioritizing actions and will collaborate with other community organizations working for immigration rights.

In carrying out the work of the Immigration Action Coalition we agree to respect each other and to listen when others speak. We acknowledge that although mistakes will be made, our joint intentions are good. We agree to hold sensitive information, both personal and case-related, in
confidence among us. We agree to express our discomforts and disagreements promptly and thoughtfully, and we will support, inform, and guide each other with kindness and love.


Since 2014, the Immigration Action Coalition has been advocating, locally and nationally, for immigration reform. We also support our local immigrant community with direct actions including financial assistance, demonstration participation and volunteering/participating in various organizations including Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigration Rights, Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary, Interfaith Coalition for Peace and Justice, Cosecha, and the Washtenaw ID Project. 

photo of four people walking in a desert

The Immigration Action Coalition is monitoring the local and national need for support for refugees/migrants from Afghanistan, Haiti, and more. As many of you have seen in the news, there is a humanitarian crisis occurring in Afghanistan. The Taliban have taken control of the majority of the country resulting in a return to abhorrent oppression and danger for women, children, the LGBTQ communities, those of religious and ethnic minorities, etc. Our values call us to be in solidarity with people displaced by violence and injustice.

Michigan agencies are preparing to welcome at least 1500 Afghan refugees over the next few months starting this week! They will be resettled throughout the state. It is unclear if they will be legally classified as refugees and thus be eligible for financial and housing support from the government. At this time, local agencies are looking for affordable housing. If you have a rental available or are a property manager who would like to work with a local agency on renting full apartments or houses, please contact the Immigration Action Coalition at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We will continue to monitor the situation and call for additional support when the need is more defined.

IAC also calls to your attention the treatment of Haitian migrants at the U.S. border. The images recently released demonstrate that the culture of Customs and Border Protection is rampant with racism, abuse, and invites comparisons to slavery times. Despite this coming into the public eye and the obvious dangers that exist for all who live in Haiti at this time, this Administration continues to deport individuals from Haiti. The Immigration Action Coalition exclaims our support for Haitian migrants and is considering what actions we, as an entire UUAA community, may take to express our support soon.

Finally, Southeast Michigan has seen a massive influx of migrants from the border who are being placed on an express judicial docket placing their due process rights at risk and causing chaos in the legal communities. Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights serves as a financial and informational resource for these individuals who desperately need legal assistance, community orientation, rides to court dates and check-in's, etc. IAC expects to host another fundraiser for WICIR very soon. Please be on the lookout and join us!

We welcome all individuals who would like to join us in supporting our immigrant neighbors nationally, regionally, and locally. Join us at our next IAC meeting by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To learn more about the legal situation for individuals arriving from Afghanistan, read here: https://immigrationforum.org/article/explainer-humanitarian-parole-and-the-afghan-evacuation/


Pandemic Era Fundraiser! Virtual Drag Bingo!

A Zoom Drag Queen Bingo Fundraiser

 On March 6, 2021 the Immigration Action Coalition of UUAA in collaboration with Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR) and Mexiquenses hosted a unique virtual experience and raised funds for families in our community. In addition to a fun time and good spirits, the event raised over $2,185 to be distributed directly to immigrant families in Washtenaw County.  These funds will help with emergency needs such as housing and utilities for families ineligible for government provided pandemic relief funds. Thank you to everyone who supported this effort!


May, 2020 Book Discussion with Author Bill Lopez - Separated





After the COVID-19 lockdown forced postponement, IAC scrambled to reschedule and successfully held a book discussion on May 17, 2020.  The book discussion was on Separated by local scholar, Bill Lopez.  Around 40 individuals participated.



Butterfly Project - January, 2020


UUAA congregants are taking part in a local immigration awareness Butterfly Project. Tiles made for the Butterfly Project are placed in various locations in the Ann Arbor area. Follow this link to see the tiles and where to find them-- including a downloadable map of the tile locations.

The Butterfly Project of the Ann Arbor Jewish Sanctuary and Immigration Group aims to bring attention to the children and adults currently held in detention in the United States as a result of U.S. government actions. Through public art, the project intends to raise awareness of the on-going violations of basic human rights occurring in this country.

To find out about making your own tile email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Border Delegations





Two delegations from UUAA traveled to Arizona in 2019 to work with Borderlinks, an organization that offers  experiential learning opportunities that explore the difficulties of migration and life along the U.S./Mexico border. 

A third group had to cancel their travel to the border, but are continuing to participate in the preparation program as a way to learn more about immigration related issues. Borderlinks delegates have made presentations to the congregation and are now members of IAC and other UUAA Social Justice groups.


Other Recent Work

  • In May 2020, a community member was released on bond on the condition that she quarantine in the state before being reunited with her family. IAC was able to finance her stay at an extended stay hotel, while members also provided some necessities and supported the individual during her stay. 
  • In April 2020, IAC donated $14,000 to WICIR’s fund to support our immigrant community. WICIR provided two checks to families who were experiencing financial hardship, many who did not receive any stimulus money and were unable to obtain other benefits. 
  • In December 2019, IAC presented the film Who is Dayani Cristol?   to the congregation.  32 people attended the film and had an in-depth conversation about topics surrounding the life and death issues of migrants crossing our southern borderlands.



  • Earlier in 2019, we organized a fundraiser for WICIR (Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights) called “Salsa and Salsa” that raised $1,200 to go toward their efforts. 
  • In winter 2019, IAC led UUAA in requesting bond for an individual who was suffering from mental health issues in Calhoun County Jail as an immigration detainee. Members of the church attended the bond hearing, prevailed, and ultimately housed the individual in the church for nearly a month before she could be reunited with her family in the southern part of the country. 
  • In January, 2019 IAC gathered 245 coats to send to El Paso where hundreds of immigrants had been dropped off at shelters in the snow on Christmas Day. There was a coat shortage and IAC responded promptly and arranged for shipment.




We Are Operating Virtually



Find Our Agendas, Minutes, Etc Here: https://www.dropbox.com/home/Immigration%20Action%20Coalition%20-%20UUAA



Washtenaw County Sanctuary 


Nov 4, 2018 University of Michigan Employee Enters Sanctuary at Ann Arbor Friends Center

Mohamed Soumah, a custodian at the University of Michigan, took sanctuary at the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting House in November, 2018. He is afraid that if he is deported back to West Africa he will die of the kidney disease that forces him to get regular dialysis treatments. The dialysis treatments in Guinea are expensive and unreliable. Soumah came to the U.S. in 2003, married a U.S. citizen and has two sons, ages 11 and 10. Since divorcing, he's had to get a yearly work visa, and for seven years, it had been approved until now. He was to be deported back to Guinea-Conakry in West Africa on Oct. 19, but he ended up in the hospital. His social worker called the Washtenaw County Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights and the Quakers offered him sanctuary. Soumah's recent appeal for a stay of removal was denied by ICE. He's asking for another but hasn't heard anything. Until he does, the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting House will be his home.

For more information on how you could be of help follow this link to the web site for the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice.

Or you can read the coverage by Michigan Radio with this link.


February 14, 2018 Press Conference

The Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary campaign held a press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 14, to announce the most recent commitments from congregations supporting the sanctuary movement. The conference was held at UUAA and included statements from area ministers about their commitment to sanctuary. Links to press coverage are included below.

Read the coverage on MLive.com

Which includes this video of Washtenaw County religious leaders speaking in support of the sanctuary movement:



Coverage by Michigan Radio.

Coverage by Fox 2 Detroit

Coverage by WDIV - ClickonDetroit  (Story is at about minute 26:00)


Our Path to Becoming a Sanctuary Congregation

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, our congregation voted to become a level 1 hosting sanctuary congregation, volunteering to shelter immigrants who receive deportation orders but need more time to get their status re-evaluated. The IAC worked with many other groups to plan for this program that puts our values in action.

The resolution reads:

We, the members of the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, believing in the worth and dignity of every person and the importance of compassion in human interactions, do hereby resolve to become a Sanctuary Congregation.

We are ready and willing to physically host an individual or family in imminent danger of unjust detainment and deportation until their legal options are carried out.

We will not do this work alone. We will join congregations across the country that have declared themselves Sanctuary Congregations, and will work with local congregations through Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary to support, advocate for, and contribute to the safety and well-being of individuals or families in Washtenaw County who are invited into sanctuary.

(The resolution passed by 98% of the members who attended the October 22, 2017 Special Congregational Meeting.)


WashtenawSanctuaryThe Immigration Action Coalition partners with organizations already working in our community such as the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR), Casa Latina, and the Washtenaw ID Project.  If you are interested in joining us, please send your name and contact information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Co-Chairs of the Immigration Action Coalition are:  Cheryl Valentine, Vicki Echegoyen and Louise Kazarinoff

Sanctuary Background Information

To download or read a FAQ sheet about Sanctuary, click here


To listen to the Special Congregational Meeting held October 22nd, 2017 to vote on the sanctuary resolution:


To listen to the Town Hall Meeting held October 8, 2017, in preparation for the congregational vote on Sanctuary.

Click here for Part 1


Click here for Part 2




How our congregation prepared for becoming a Sanctuary Congregation:

  1. The UUAA Board of Trustees voted in March, 2017 to support becoming a sanctuary congregation and to bring the resolution to become a host congregation to a vote of the entire congregation.
  2. Working with Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary. The UUAA Immigration Action Coalition (IAC) together with WICIR (Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights) and ICPJ (Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice) formed Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary last January. WCS is an interfaith coalition pledged to support any congregation in Washtenaw County who takes in a sanctuary guest. UUAA members Cheryl Valentine, Ruth Cassidy, and Melanie Hagen are on the WCS Steering Committee. (icpj.org/wcs)
  3. Education. The IAC has spearheaded the efforts for UUAA to become a sanctuary congregation offering twenty educational opportunities in the past two years for our congregants to learn about immigration and sanctuary issues.
  4. Exploring impacts of sanctuary on UUAA. The UUAA Sanctuary Task Force (Rev. Doug Wadkins, Rev. Lindasusan Ulrich, Ed Lynn, Debby Casamatta, Laura Bolletino, and Cheryl Valentine) researched liability, legal and financial issues, located a workable and welcoming space (the Marley Room), talked with other sanctuary congregations, and discussed sanctuary with our staff.
  5. Preparing for emergencies. The Sanctuary Task Force prepared an emergency protocol so staff, volunteers, and sanctuary guests will know just what to do in case of an emergency.


 For more information on IAC contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .