The Interfaith Welcome Coalition began its ministry of hospitality almost a decade ago in response to the first “unaccompanied minor” crisis at our southern border. Children were being held in sub-standard conditions and people of faith and conscience were called to respond in constructive ways.
As the second such crisis is unfolding in our region, IWC continues to provide that essential ministry of hospitality to asylum seekers of all ages and to other at-risk immigrants.
We have known for some time that the material-social-spiritual support that demonstrates IWC hospitality is not enough. IWC volunteers must take the wisdom they have gained from interacting with people seeking asylum; people made vulnerable by having to flee their countries of origin for safety and made vulnerable by an asylum system that has been largely dismantled.
We believe that advocacy–described in Proverbs as the act of “Speak[ing] out for those who cannot speak–is part of the golden rule. People of all faiths and conscience recognize that part of the human condition is to defend the rights of the most vulnerable. It is our vocation–calling–to be a voice for those who cannot speak and to amplify words seeking justice.
IWC is blessed and burdened with this responsibility. Our Advocacy Committee is committed to leveraging the wisdom of our volunteers to help inform efforts at immigration reform and restoring dignity to our asylum process. We have identified the work of national organizations who published the 2021 Immigration Action Plan as the foundation to our local efforts. In particular, the IWC Advocacy Committee is focused on:
Action Item # 7
Phase Out Immigration Jails and Fund Community-Based Case Management Programs: End family detention and contracts with private prisons and county jails, apply a presumption of release and invest in community-based case management programs.
We will stand in solidarity with every effort to improve circumstances for asylum seekers and at-risk immigrants arriving to and transiting through our community. The wisdom we have to offer stems from IWC’s location in South TX in proximity to 2 of the 3 existing detention centers that are equipped to house families and our volunteers tireless efforts to provide hospitality to those families in San Antonio as they prepare to be reunified with family elsewhere around the country. These factors make our collective experience relevant to policy makers working to re-humanize America’s asylum process and larger immigration system.
The Advocacy Committee invites IWC volunteers to participate in the following:
- Relationship building efforts to inform local, state and federal elected officials about experiences working with immigrants in transit
- Letter writing campaigns to elected officials
- Social media campaigns with elected officials
- Research and development of policy papers pertaining to immigration detention and community based services for immigrants
Wondering if you should register to volunteer? Based on the CDC guidelines, we are asking you the following questions:
- Have you been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19? See the CDC’s risk assessment guidance.
- Do you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19? Symptoms can include a cough or shortness of breath or at least two of the following: Fever, Chills, Repeated shaking with chills, Muscle pain, Headache, Sore throat, New loss of taste or smell. See the CDC’s symptom information.