There’s still time to sign up for the three-part discussion series on “Immigration Nation,” which begins on Thursday, February 11 (7:00-8:30 p.m.). This Netflix six-part docu-series takes a deep look at the status of immigration in the United States. Subsequent sessions with guest speakers will be held on Thursday, February 25 and Thursday, March 11. The series is sponsored by the Adult Religious Education and Spiritual Development (ARESD) team.

Filmmakers Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz were given unprecedented access for two and a half years into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations under the Trump administration. The series, which was released on Netflix in August 2020, also offers moving portraits of refugees being held in detention centers, following their cases through this country’s labyrinthine immigration system.

Stefania Arteaga, co-founder of Comunidad Colectiva and the Carolina Migrant Network, will join our discussion on February 25. Stefania is a passionate advocate for immigrant rights, and the Netflix series prominently features her efforts to advocate for the civil rights and welfare of our local immigrant community, along with her key role in the successful campaign to eliminate the 287g program in Mecklenburg County, a voluntary partnership between local law enforcement and ICE that led to the deportation of thousands of immigrants. Stefania currently serves as a Statewide Immigrants’ Rights Organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. She has also worked closely with a number of other local organizations, including ourBRIDGE for Kids, the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and the Latin American Coalition.

On March 11, we will welcome Daniel Valdez as our guest speaker focusing on immigration reform and advocacy on the national level. Daniel is the Director of North Carolina and Mid-South Operations at the Hispanic Federation, which seeks to empower and advance the Hispanic community, support Hispanic families, and strengthen Latino institutions through work in the areas of education, health, immigration, civic engagement, economic empowerment, and the environment. Daniel has more than 10 years in nonprofit management working with organizations like Welcoming America, Crisis Assistance Ministry, the Latin American Coalition, and Carolinas CARE Partnership. He is passionate about using his talents and experience to advance the mission of organizations working on systemic changes in an effort to make the world a better place for all.

Participants are encouraged to watch the full series on Netflix, but they can also join individual Zoom sessions to hear the guest speakers. The first two episodes will be the focus of the discussion on February 11. Episodes 3-4 will be discussed briefly on February 25 before Stefania joins the group. Episodes 5-6 will be discussed briefly on March 11 before Daniel presents.

To reserve your spot and receive a Zoom invitation for the first session, please send an email to aresd@uuccharlotte.org by Wednesday, February 10. If you have any questions, please contact either Shannon Maples at scmaples@gmail.com or Sharon Baker at bakerwriter@yahoo.com.