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We Choose Hope

Ian Danley describes his fight for immigration reform in Arizona.

Ian DanleyIan Danley is being honored as a Champion of Change for his efforts as an Immigration Reformer.

It is with sincere gratitude that I accept this Cesar Chavez Champions of Change Award. In Arizona especially, Cesar Chavez’s work and legacy give us great hope and encouragement as a sacred model for how we might work for justice in our world today. I am humbled and grateful to be recognized with this award.

It is always nice to be recognized for the work we do, work I find meaningful and central to my life. The truth is that so many have been working tirelessly for immigrant rights and for a fair and reasonable policy solution to our nation's broken immigration system. I am a part of a movement that is large, diverse, and beautiful. I am better for knowing these many servant leaders and am proud to work alongside them.

The first thing I ever did in the fight for immigration reform was in April 2004. I coaxed, prodded, and mobilized one hundred of my neighbors and fellow congregants to a leaders’ convocation that pushed local congressional leaders to support immigration reform and asked municipal leaders to avoid the use of local resources in efforts to enforce federal immigration law. I was excited to have so many people show up, and I was ready for my next organizing challenge. I have not stopped organizing since that action. I had no idea I would spend nearly ten years (God willing, this is our year) fighting for immigration reform. I had no idea Arizona was to become a bell-weather state for immigration issues. I have learned much since that Spring action in a Baptist sanctuary. I have much still left to learn.

The immigrant leaders I get to serve alongside – many of them are quite young – these are people I respect and love tremendously. Together we are building a justice movement in our city and country that I believe is a work of God; changing hearts, minds and, yes, systems in order to treat human beings as the divine inspirations of creation that they are. We hope and pray and work to ensure that our community will be known for its compassion towards everyone and that we will flee from any violation of humanity that destroys human potential and insults our Creator. We choose hope because there is no other option desirable and because the world is desperate for people full of hope.

Ian Danley serves on the advisory board at Promise Arizona.