Rector’s Message on Responding to the Current Immigration Crisis

by Samarra Khaja

Dear Ascension parishioners and friends,

Many of you have asked what we can do in response to the immigration crisis of families separated at the border, and now perhaps held in indefinite detention. There are many lists of good options available on the internet, but here are some suggestions based on the research I have done.

Continue to call your elected representatives. Urge them to end family separations, reunite children with their parents, and protect asylum seekers. Here is an Interfaith toolkit from Church World Service to help advocate for immigrant children and families: bit.ly/EndFamilySeparationToolkit.

Donate to Legal and Humanitarian Efforts:

– RAICES (Refugee and immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services- works all over Texas; also can use volunteers) their webpage is bit.ly/2JPnEiI
– KIND (Kids in Need of Defense- represents children in their deportation hearings) supportkind.org/
– Tahirih Justice Center (focus on women and girls fleeing gender-based violence) www.tahirih.org/
– ACLU – www.aclu.org/
– Texas Civil Rights Project – texascivilrightsproject.org/
– The Florence Project (provides free legal help to those in immigrant detention in Arizona) https://firrp.org/

• Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas (Sacred Heart Church is working around the clock to help migrants who have been provisionally cleared and released by Border Protection with temporary papers a future court date (and an ankle monitor in tow). After being processed they are dropped off at the McAllen bus terminal where they wait before leaving to their next destination. The church picks up people from the bus terminal, brings them to their welcome center, and offers them their first warm meal, a bath, a change of clothes, hygiene products, a call home, and assistance with translating their paper work and travel itinerary.) Visit their webite at sacredheartchurch-mcallen.org/ for more information.

Episcopal Migration Ministries www.episcopalmigrationministries.org collaborates with 14 local partner agencies in 12 Episcopal dioceses to welcome those fleeing persecution.

Ascension is a member of the New Sanctuary Coalition. See newsanctuarynyc.org for information on local training for accompaniment and legal support. You can also contribute to their bail bond fund to help release immigrants from detention.

Participate in Direct Action– On Saturday, June 30, demonstrations took place around the country in support of keeping immigrant families together and out of detention. The websites above (and this page) often list current marches and actions. You can join Ascension parishioners for some of the local actions.

For ongoing information, see Families Belong Together – familiesbelong.org/

Pray. Here’s one prayer to use, adapted from the United Church of Christ and Pax Christi.

Creator God,
open our eyes so we can see you in the eyes of our immigrant brothers and sisters, eyes downcast for having lived so long in the shadows,
eyes challenging us to join them in the streets or picket lines, eyes lifted looking for the Christ light in us.
Compassionate God, who has come to dwell among us, open our ears to hear the cries of your children, children being separated from their parents,
rounded up in raids,
led to detention centers, silently giving up dreams.
God of Justice, who crosses all boundaries, give us courage to resist, to say NO
to unfair labor practices, to unjust laws .
Give us the strength to stand with and for your inclusive love,
faith to believe,
another world is necessary and possible. Let it begin with us.
We pray in the name of Jesus, who crossed every boundary between divinity and humanity to make a home with us, and who welcomes all people with love beyond our imagining.
Amen.

May God bless us with courage, strength and perseverance as we seek ways to respond faithfully, joyfully and generously to the gospel in these difficult days. Do not lose heart!

Peace – Liz

The Rev. Elizabeth G. Maxwell
July 2018