THE LIFE OF A SUMMER IMMIGRANT ACTIVIST!
It's been two months since my last Blog post. These two months have been full of Trump- tweets and bad decisions. It's hard not to react each time a new action against immigrants and refugees is announced. First, it is cutting off development aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Then, the U.S. government announced that it's sending security aid to Guatemala to train the police and military to intercept immigrants traveling through Guatemala on their way north. Human rights violations occur daily in the three Northern Triangle countries although rarely does this news make it North. It is hard not to despair if you, like me, care about the people in these countries and elsewhere in the world who have been told by #45 that you are not welcome in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Taking Action: Two weeks ago over a thousand Portlanders gathered in a Plaza across from the Federal building as part of the national Lights for Liberty events. Two mothers who work in health care locally, organized this rally, vigil and march. There were no celebrities, just people concerned, angry and indignant about the state of our country and its horrific treatment of immigrants.
My local organization, Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, was there along with many other groups and organizations. We held our battery operated candles high as we marched across a bridge with a full moon adding light to our lights. In the photo below, I am the one with white hair holding a candle.
Keeping up the struggle - finding hope in community. Last week I went to a forum on the current status of the border. The Numbers are mind-boggling. 9,000 people seeking asylum have been sent back to Mexico from San Diego and overall, 15,000 have been turned back to wait for their number to appear to have a chance to apply for asylum. Volunteers are needed to help pro bono attorneys prepare background for the asylum appeal - Spanish is necessary. Check Innovation Law Lab for details. innovationlawlab.org/about/
HOST FAMILIES FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS NEEDED: At the Lights for Liberty event a local pastor approached me about the need for a host family for asylum seeker in a Tucson shelter, the Monastery. As the weeks passed, emails were exchanged, calls were made and we are still trying. Finding the right host family for women and children who only speak Spanish as well as the financial and emotional support needed for this family or any other seeking asylum is not easy.
It's similar to refugee resettlement, but no federal dollars are there to assist asylum seekers so faith based groups and individuals of conscience are where we turn. We, meaning out network in Oregon, has supported an asylum seeker and her child this past year. We have learned a lot. What I know is that it takes a community to support the host family and the person/families seeking asylum. An overground Railroad is needed to get people from the border to safe places and families to take them in. Sometimes, their relatives are the ones but with the numbers seeking asylum it is challenging.
I don't know what will happen to the family in Tucson, but I pray that she and her children will be safe and that a way will be found. The good people in Tucson who care for the newly arrived, do an incredible job and we need to support them there and to help them send families on their way.
Steve Manning, founder of Innovation Law Lab, reminded us at the Border Update forum, that each of us can act. Don't wait around for someone else to act, when you see or hear of a need, ACT!
It's summer and the living is good for some of us, but not all of us. Listen to your heart and lift your voice when and where you can.
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?