- UU Connection
In response to the hostility and injustice aimed at immigrants to this nation, The Community Church created our Sanctuary and Immigrant Support Ministry. Last year, after a lengthy period of self-education and discernment, our congregation voted overwhelmingly to become an official Sanctuary Congregation. As such, we pledge to open our hearts and our church to poor and oppressed people who come to our borders seeking survival, safety and well-being. Our mission extends to people needing church sanctuary to avoid deportation, refugees in need of emergency housing assistance, and asylum-seekers, who arrive from Latin America and elsewhere seeking asylum due to the extreme dangers they face in their home countries.
The Manse (former parsonage) has been refitted to house immigrants.
Our church campus includes an old minister’s residence or manse which is located in a secluded space. In recent years, it had fallen into disrepair. We have worked long and hard to clear out, clean up and repair this structure to make it a habitable and welcoming space for immigrants in need of housing and other supports to avoid deportation. In January of this year we completed this work and announced to the larger community our readiness to receive an immigrant into sanctuary.
Concurrently, another related and urgent need surfaced. Individuals fleeing Central America to seek asylum in the United States are in desperate need of safe options as they wind their way through the asylum processes. Because of the backlog of cases, asylum seekers are waiting a year or more before their asylum determination hearing. Escalating stresses on the system suggest the backlog may grow dramatically in the coming months and years. Those seeking asylum cannot enter the U. S. until they have a sponsor; the sponsor or a surrogate is required to pay the bond that must be posted before the immigrant can be released to the sponsor. Often there are no family members available or able to fulfill the related responsibilities, which are considerable. Beyond the bond are the burdens of adding another person to a household when the new addition is not allowed to work for at least five months after arrival. Churches are beginning to mobilize to meet the needs of those awaiting asylum.
In April, our Sanctuary and Immigrant Support Ministry determined that we could best use our physical and human resources by making ourselves available to someone in the slow pipeline of asylum determination. After contacting a church-affiliated “matching” organization, we were put in contact with lawyers working at the southwest border near San Diego, California. We were matched with a 21-year-old female asylum-seeker from El Salvador who, since November, 2018, was held in detention in California awaiting a sponsor. At her bond hearing on May 15th, her appearance bond was set at $5,000 of which Community Church has paid $2,000, plus transportation to North Carolina. She arrived with few clothes, no personal hygiene products, no English language skills and genuine gratitude that she has found a community to welcome and support her.
Our current guest goes through a bike safety check with a church volunteer.
Meeting the bail and plane fare expenses has been burdensome. Ongoing costs are considerable and include housing, medical and dental care, clothing and personal care needs, food and transportation, acculturation experiences including language classes and safety. We are writing this request to help defray these costs and to maximize the help that we can provide. We have already been asked to take in a second asylum-seeker, and in May we had a refugee from Cuba who stayed with us for four weeks. We are hopeful that once we have secured adequate funds to afford the needs of our current resident, we will be able to meet the needs of additional immigrants.
Steering Committee session.
The cost of hosting a person is $100 per week. We are extending our goal by $5,200, thus allowing us to offer sanctuary to another asylum seeker this year.
10/13/2019Donation comes from Beth and husband Peter Romeyn$100.00