Get Involved in A United South Carolina
There are many ways to get involved with the United South Carolina campaign, and this initiative is the perfect place for allies to work side by side with immigrants for just communities.
Developing meaningful, genuine relationships with immigrants keeps all of our work relevant and sharp. Spend some time getting to know who in your community is working on immigrant justice issues and if there are any immigrant groups already organized. You can also talk to folks in your neighborhood, faith community, or other community organizations to find out who is interested in immigrant rights and immigrant issues.
If you are new to the topic, there are many ways to learn about immigrants and immigration. You can visit the United South Carolina blog or SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center’s website for helpful information.
You can do this by following the United South Carolina blog.
Involve and educate others.
1. Call a meeting.
This may include immigrant rights advocates, active religious leaders or members, peace groups, human rights groups, social justice groups, neighbors, friends, colleagues, anyone! At the meeting, describe the campaign and ask people if they are interested in joining together to work on the campaign.
2. Form a book club.
Join or start a book club and lead discussions about what it means to be a welcoming community. Coloradans For Immigrant Rights, a project of the AFSC and a member of CIRC maintains a list of titles.
Use the book club to talk and learn about various elements of immigration. Talk through the difficult nuances; ask each other questions and share stories about your experiences. Then, think about what other kinds of action you might want to take together.
3. Host a film.
Organize a movie showing that touches on immigration and lead a discussion about what it means to be a welcoming community. This website has an extensive list of films about immigrants, along with a description about each film. Take Part also has a list of films about immigrants and immigration. You probably can rent some of these movies from Blockbuster or Netflix, or perhaps borrow them from your local library.
Use the films to build a network of people in your community who want to learn more about immigration and take action around the issue. Think about what your next steps might be.
4. Present to a class.
High School, ESOL, GED and other adult education classes provide an excellent opportunity to present the A United South Carolina campaign. Take advantage of the opportunity to organize students, teachers, and other participants in such programs so they get excited about creating their own activities, as well. At the same time encourage them to create their own activities related to the campaign.
5. Organize a Panel Discussion.
College campuses and events open to the public can be a great arena for people to learn about issues surrounding immigration by organizing a panel of individuals who represent various points of view. You would need to:
Step 1: Determine the topic(s) you would like the discussion to focus on.
Step 2: Research & invite persons in the area who demonstrate knowledge in the area of focus.
Step 3: Come up with a broad list of questions you would like to ask the speakers (This is used as a means to keep the speakers on point). You can also invite other audience members to ask questions at the actual event.
Step 4: Determine a location for the event, find any equipment you will need depending on the size of the event (microphones, etc.), and create time limits for answering questions / providing rebuttals.
Step 5: Advertise the event and spread the word!
Step 6: Hold the event & conduct an evaluation
Step 7: Debrief with your event team!
6.Organize activities for youths.
a. Art & Video Contests
Organizing art and/or video contests is another great way to engage youth in the immigrant plight. Possible topics include:
i. Create an art project or documentary on a current political topic related to immigrant rights in the state and/or the U.S.
ii. Create a video diary of a student your age whose parents immigrated to the U.S.
iii. Create a video diary of various immigrants answering questions related to why they came to the U.S.
iv. Document how immigration affects the state of South Carolina
v. Document the processes people complete in getting their green card
We want to hear about it! Send videos, artworks, photos, or newspaper clippings summarizing the outcome.
b. Children’s Theater
Plays are another great way to inform youth of all ages about immigration issues, while providing them with the opportunity to express themselves. You can create your own play, or order one of the following:
i. Elementary school grades:
1. We Come From Everywhere
ii. Middle school to High school grades:
1. Tugboat Love
2. Yearning to Breathe Free
3. Children of the Ghetto, The Melting Pot, and The King of Schnorrers
c. Playwriting Contest
Daunted at the prospect of developing your own script? Why not provide talented youth with the opportunity to come up with one of their own?
STEP 1: Select a play topic.
STEP 2: Create directions related to who can participate (what age groups?), minimum/maximum script lengths, deadlines, information on where to mail entries, 1st-3rd place prizes, and an example outline of a script including a cast of characters and needed prompts.
STEP 3: Advertise the play to local schools, youth groups, and papers.
STEP 4: Organize a judging panel and judging timeline.
STEP 5: Announce the winners!
We want to hear about it! Send videos, sample scripts, photos, or newspaper clippings summarizing the outcome.
d. Other Writing Contests
Poetry, short story, and other writing contests are also a great way for youth to express themselves on issues related to immigration. Use the steps mentioned under Play Writing Contest as a guide for implementing a writing contest at local schools and youth organizations.
We want to hear about it! Send sample writings, photos, or newspaper clippings summarizing the outcome.
7. Engage your Faith Community.
a. Ask your rabbi, minister, imam or priest to support the campaign: You could encourage your rabbi, minister, imam or priest to include a message of welcoming and reference the A United South Carolina campaign (if appropriate) in their sermon or homily.
b. Approach committees within your faith community (social justice, social concerns, community, outreach): You could host a discussion at your faith community about the campaign and how welcoming relates to your faith.
8. Share your Story.
We would love to hear your personal story of how you feel welcomed or not welcomed in the state of South Carolina. Please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Write Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds.
Write a letter to the editor or an opinion piece for your local newspaper about the campaign or why certain immigration laws are bad policy. Your letter can focus on the campaign itself, an activity associated with the campaign or it can be written in response to an article in the paper that illustrates how immigrants are welcomed or aren’t welcomed in your community. Most newspapers have guidelines for how to direct your letter or opinion piece and a general word limit.
Letters to the editor should be short and to the point. They can range from 100 to 150 words. In each one, you want to include the problem, the solution, and the action that you want taken. Newspapers will not print anonymous letters so make sure to sign your full name, and include your address and phone number. Most newspapers only print your name and city as part of your letter, but they usually call you to verify that you did indeed write the letter that was submitted.
Most papers will also not print your letter if it was also already printed in another paper.
Suggested Talking Points
• Our country is a nation of immigrants and we live up to our most fundamental values when we welcome newcomers into our communities.
• Immigrants have been integral to our history, and they continue to be central to our economy. Immigrants feed the state, the country, and the world. They have kept alive communities that would have disappeared without them.
• Saying that we need to have an immigration system that is fair and just doesn’t mean that our government has no role in monitoring our borders. But we should be taking reality into account, and we should not be denying basic rights to people who have contributed so much to our country.
• The hatred against immigrants of some in our communities is unfortunate and misdirected. Immigrants make such vital contributions to our local community here and across the nation.
• We need a meaningful legalization program. It will enable hardworking, taxpaying immigrant workers to fix their papers and get on the path to citizenship.
• The problem is that we have bad immigration laws that harm good people. The solution is to fix the laws and the immigration system so that we have a more just and fair system for all immigrants.
• Let’s get real. People come here to work and build a new life for their families. And yet bad laws continue to criminalize millions of good people who fill available jobs and contribute to our prosperity.
• Immigrants, documented or not, are our community members. Immigrants want the same things everyone else wants: a good job, a good education system for our children and a better future.
• Because of bad immigration laws, many members of our communities must live in fear of their future; are vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers; and have no way to change their status.
• A bad system not only undermines vulnerable immigrant workers, it undermines the bargaining power of American workers in the same industries. It also hurts the competitiveness of decent employers who get undercut by those who prey on vulnerable undocumented workers.
• We are for legal immigration. We understand the risks and exploitation faced by undocumented immigrants. That is why we want hardworking, non-criminal, immigrants already here to get on a path to legal status and citizenship, and why we want wider channels for family reunification. This will enable immigrants to be here legally, to come here legally, and to enjoy the rights and responsibilities of full membership in American society.