What You Can Do to Help Your Immigrant Neighbors in this Time of Crisis

Please read this post from Kathy Doan, a Ruling Elder (Session member) and Executive Director of the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition. 

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Photo from https://faithinaction.org/federation/congregation-action-network/

As the Executive Director of the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition, the only non-profit immigration legal service provider in the Washington area focused exclusively on assisting the over 2000 immigrant men, women and children detained on a daily basis in 12 detention centers in Maryland and Virginia, I am frequently asked what can be done to help immigrants under threat in our communities, as well as respond to the horrific treatment of immigrant children and families at the border.

While it is easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless, there is much that we can and should be doing to protect our immigrant neighbors and fight for justice for those seeking refuge in our country.  

  1. First, we can demand that our elected leaders pursue policies that are in accord with our obligations under international law to provide an opportunity for those fleeing violence in their homelands to apply for asylum and not be relegated to long and dangerous waits in Mexico. 
  2. Second, we can demand that our elected leaders ensure that policies put into place to protect unaccompanied immigrant children are enforced. 
  3. Third, we can demand that our elected leaders pursue policies that address the factors that are forcing men, women and children to abandon their home countries in order to survive. 
  4. Fourth, we can weave a strong safety net around the immigrants in our own communities who are threatened with detention and deportation by supporting local efforts to educate immigrants on their rights in an encounter with ICE, join a “Rapid Response” team to respond to an ICE raid, accompany an immigrant to their ICE check-in and support local families impacted by the detention of a loved one.

The good news is that there is already a robust local network of congregations, non-profit immigration service providers and advocacy organizations in the DMV that provide many opportunities to engage in the fight for more just and compassionate immigration laws and policies.  NYAPC is one of dozens of congregations that belong to the Congregation Action Network (formerly DMV Sanctuary Congregational Network).  CAN is divided into three clusters: DC, Northern Virginia and Montgomery/PG Counties.  The DC Cluster meets once a month at National City Christian Church.  A number of members of NYAPC church, including Fritz and myself, regularly attend these meetings.  The DC Cluster is divided into various committees focusing on both local and national efforts to defend immigrants and advocate for more just laws and policies.  We need more people to join us!  If you would like to know more about CAN, please email me at kathryndoan@yahoo.com

Another opportunity to help detained immigrants in our area is to volunteer with the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition.  We need volunteers to assist on jail visits, staff our detention hotline and assist with translation needs. For more information go to https://www.caircoalition.org/how-to-help/volunteering.

Finally, know the numbers to call in the event of the detention of a friend or family member: 

https://www.facebook.com/CAIRCoalitionDC/photos/a.187505218087245/1222891381215285/?type=3&theater

As you can see, there are many ways to put your “faith in action” on behalf of our immigrant brothers and sisters, so chose something and get going!

Kathy Doan and Omar Angel Perez -- 3

 

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General View of the Demonstration - 3

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