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Spirituality and Immigration

By Jon Sievert

What would US immigration law look like if it followed the seven Unitarian Universalist principles? Ileana Salinas discusses the impact of US immigration policies in her life as a young activist undocumented woman of color living in Arizona, and her perspective of a vision for international migrant justice at this Sunday’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Service.

UU Service
“Spirituality and Immigration”
By Ileana Salinas
Sun, Nov 13, 10:30am
La Posada de la Aldea, Ancha de San Antonio 15

Ileana and her husband, Celso Mireles, are undocumented immigrants who live in the United States and are traveling in Mexico under the protection of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act passed by President Obama in 2012. The policy covers certain young people who went to the US as children. Ileana was born in Mexico City and moved to Phoenix with her family at the age of 15, seeking security and a better life.

She became involved in the immigrant rights’ movement in the fall of 2006 after the passage of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law Prop. 300. In 2009 she was racially profiled at a traffic stop, taken to jail, and put into deportation proceedings. Thanks to the community’s support and knowing her rights, she was released and her case was terminated. She decided to permanently dedicate her time and energy to the migrant justice movement so other people wouldn’t go through the same traumatic experience. From 2010 to 2014 she was active as community organizer and activist in efforts against SB1070, for the Dream Act, and for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which eventually granted her a temporary deferment from deportation and work authorization.

In the last few years, after interacting with “Standing on the Side of Love” activists during immigration marches in Phoenix, she was introduced to the seven Unitarian Universalist principles, which motivated her to visit and later become a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix. She currently facilitates art and healing workshops with children and youth who have a loved one in detention, deportation proceedings or jail.

With these experiences, Ileana will take us on a journey to explore a world where immigration law followed our seven Unitarian Universalist principles. In order to visit our fellowship, she and Celso were authorized to receive Advance Parole, a special restricted permit to leave and return to the US. She is excited to visit her country of birth after 12 years and be able to interact with fellow UUs and get to know their unique spiritual and immigration journeys. Celso was born in Juarez, Mexico, and has grown up in Phoenix since age 3. He graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Business Management and has a passion for building technology for social justice. Ileana and Celso will also provide special music.

The UU Fellowship meets every Sunday at 10:30am. at La Posada de Aldea, Ancha de San Antonio 15, and welcomes people of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The room is wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit our website at


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