resettlement support iconFamily Resettlement Support





What’s new with the project? I see there is a name change!

  • UUAA is officially approved to be a co-sponsor with Jewish Family Services to help resettle a refugee family! The tentative plan was to be matched with one of the Afghan families that would be arriving before February 14th, 2022. JFS expected to have one last surge, but truly only learns who will be arriving a few days ahead of time. Fortunately for the Afghan families, all co-sponsor eligible families were placed before UUAA was matched.
  • What does this mean for us now? JFS has resettled an unprecedented number of families this year. Their cases workers are over capacity caring for the Afghans in their care and have families from other countries starting to arrive soon. We always knew this was a possibility and have chosen to move forward. We will accept being matched with a family from anywhere in the world. After all, why would it matter where they are from?
  • We could be matched with a family by early March, so our preparations continue! See below about how to help. Check out our new Sign Up Genius to contribute to household items: ​​




What is this all about?

  • UUAA is working with Jewish Family Services (“JFS”) to “Co-sponsor” a displaced family from abroad and resettle them here in our community. JFS and other resettlement agencies are operating beyond capacity and need community groups to step up and assist.

What is this all about?

  • UUAA is working with Jewish Family Services (“JFS”) to “Co-sponsor” a displaced family from abroad and resettle them here in our community. JFS and other resettlement agencies are operating beyond capacity and need community groups to step up and assist.

What does “Co-sponsorship” entail?

  • Co-sponsorship means helping the family get resettled. UUAA Volunteers will support them by helping find housing, healthcare, employment, education resources, transportation, etc and partially financing their living expenses for some time. They will not live at the church. The goal is to help the family become self-sufficient in six months to one year.

Tell me more about the family.

  • We have not been assigned a family yet. It is very likely that we will not have any information about them until just a few days before they arrive. However, we expect the family to include 2-5 individuals.

What now? How can I help?

  • UUAA’s Immigration Action Coalition is leading the organization of this effort. We need to show JFS we have enough support. Our goal is to have 40 volunteers who can contribute 1-2 hours per week (more at the beginning), and to raise at least $20,000.00. Our support will be in highest demand when the family first arrives and taper off as they gain independence and community support.
  • Sign up to volunteer here.
  • Donate to the Family Resettlement Fund on realm or here.



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. 



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:



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

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. (
  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. .