A previously scheduled prayer vigil for immigration reform has shifted focus a bit to also honor a champion of that cause: Sen. Ted Kennedy.
The vigil—to be held this evening from 6 to 7 p.m. at the federal building at 300 State St. in Springfield— was planned to call for the end of unfair treatment of immigrants, and to call for changes in U.S. immigration law. “Although we are a nation of immigrants, recent immigrants face numerous barriers to equality,” organizers said in an announcement of the event. “Violent home and workplace raids have split thousands of families and left children thousands of miles away from their own parents. Immigrants have become common targets for abuse by unscrupulous employers, from being significantly underpaid to being victims of violence.”
The vigil will now also honor Kennedy, whose long Senate career included tireless work in support of healthcare to all and humane, equitable immigration laws. “Immigrants and American-born faith and community leaders will gather together to honor the legacy of Senator Edward Kennedy and to stand in unity against the politics of hate and division. Leading prayers and holding candles, participants will pray together for the passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Health Care for All,” announced the Springfield-based Alliance to Develop Power, a member organization of both the National Reform Immigration FOR America Now campaign and Health Care for America Now.
About 75 clergy members from a wide range of faiths are expected to attend, leading prayers in English, Spanish, Russia and Farsi, according to ADP. Interspersed with the prayers will be testimony from immigrants about the challenges and discrimination they face, as well as stories of Kennedy’s work on their behalf.
“Faith calls on us to stand together with our brothers and sisters—American born and immigrant—Black, brown, and white—to lift up the true meaning of love,” ADP member Dedra Lewis, who worked with Kennedy on a campaign to expand children’s health insurance, said in the release. “Senator Kennedy represents that love. He was a true hero.”