Tagged: “Sanctuary”

Help Undocumented Students Stay in College

It’s a long road to a college education for most undocumented students. About 98,000 graduate from high school in the U.S. each year, but only 5-10 percent go to college. Once there, they walk a financial tightrope to graduation.

Tuition and living costs add up quickly; tuition alone is more than $44,000 at UC Davis for those who don’t qualify for protected status or in-state tuition. Often the first in their family to go to college, students may juggle two or three jobs to make ends meet. Those who can’t work legally have an even tougher burden, but more than 730 undocumented students have beaten the odds to attend UC Davis this year.

This campaign, supported by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, aims to raise $5,000 for emergency grants to lighten their load. We have developed a relationship with SPEAK, a student-run organization at UC Davis that supports the undocumented students who are the beneficiaries of this campaign.

UUCD raised money via Faithify for the same purpose in 2017 but student need continues to outstrip resources. Last year, only a quarter of the 73 students who applied for emergency grants got them. The need is even more urgent this year.

“Especially now, with COVID-19, there’s more need for financial support,” said Ana Sandoval Contreras, co-coordinator of SPEAK. “Students have used emergency grants for paying rent, buying groceries and providing support for their families. At $200 to $300 each, it is not a lot, but money that is needed. I have received one in the past. It was very helpful. I used it to buy groceries and books.”

We see this campaign as a simple matter of social justice and access to education. It also follows UU traditions of reaching out to under-represented and vulnerable groups and collaboration across age, ethnic and economic divisions. We have received an urgent request from SPEAK leaders for help.

We hope you will support this effort to help undocumented students at a particularly scary time for immigrants in this country.

Ana’s story

Ana Sandoval Contreras, co-coordinator at SPEAK, rallying on behalf of undocumented students in front of the State Capitol.

Ana Sandoval, 21, is a fourth-year student who expects to take five years to graduate. She has relied on a variety of grants, scholarships and food vouchers to stay afloat and healthy during her college days. She currently works at the AB540 and Undocumented Center at UC Davis as a community advocate.

Born in Puebla, Mexico, she came to the United States in 2009 with her mother and sister. She was nine years old. Her father already lived here. Sandoval was told to pack one backpack with a couple of sets of clothes for a visit to her father.

“My aunt knew we were never coming back but for me, it didn’t click that this was the last time I’d see grandparents and everybody I knew back there,” she said. “It’s hit me now: the whole trauma of leaving my childhood for a whole new identity. I can’t go visit.”

Reunited with her father, Sandoval grew up in the San Fernando Valley outside Los Angeles. Her mother cleans houses. Her father is a plumber and construction worker. A variety of cousins, uncles and aunts now live nearby. A few relatives have visited from Mexico.

Sandoval started fourth grade in a year-round school that sent her back to second and third grade in off quarters so she could catch up. She learned English, made new friends but never shared her story.

When others began working on college applications, Ana didn’t think she could go. Then she attended a conference put on by the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project, a nonprofit that emphasizes the importance of culture, community, college and careers.

“I didn’t know I was undocumented,” she said. “It was not until I attended the conference, became really comfortable with others — and another person told their story — that I wanted to learn more about college. It was a milestone for my aspirations, my understanding about being undocumented and wanting to give back to my community.”

Now a senior at UC Davis, Sandoval is majoring in sociology and Chicano studies with a minor in education. She’s looking at graduate school and careers that range from student affairs to higher education to help students learn how to get involved and go to college.

She applied for a long list of emergency grants and scholarships to be able to afford college.

“It does feel like I’m on edge,” she said. “You can apply to 10 programs and hear from only one or two. Very few people get them. Thankfully, I’ve gotten some state support as well as grants.” Immigrant students with DACA protection have work permits, but the future of the program remains unclear. Sandoval missed qualification for DACA by a few months.

With your help, SPEAK hopes to provide emergency grants once again.

Endorsements

Laura Monica Bohorquez Garcia, Director of the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center

Laura Monica Bohorquez Garcia outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, 11/12/19

11/12/2020 marked the one year anniversary of the SCOTUS DACA Supreme Court decision. It is a day that I will always remember not only because of the decision but because of the power, strategy, and joy that I witnessed outside of the Supreme Court on 11/12/19. I carry this memory and I get to relive it everyday as I work alongside the AB540 and Undocumented Student community at UC Davis. I witness this power and joy every day when I talk to my family as someone who is part of a mixed- immigration status family and when I meet with students as the Director of the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center. Everyday I am reminded that we as an immigrant community are powerful as I see how UC Davis students own and navigate their power and use their courage to ask for help, to provide help, and to be helped. I invite you to join UC Davis students in their strength and give what your capacity allows you to.

Don Saylor, Yolo County Supervisor

Yolo County seal
DON SAYLOR
Supervisor, Second District
County of Yolo
625 Court Street, Room 204, Woodland, CA 95695-1268 (530) 666-8622
District Office: 600 A Street, Suite B Davis, CA 95616 (530) 757-5557

October 23, 2020

To Whom it May Concern:
I am writing to you in my capacity as a Yolo County Supervisor representing District 2 to convey my strong endorsement and support of the Scholars Promoting Education, Awareness and Knowledge (SPEAK) program.

As a County Supervisor, I am committed to serving and supporting all members of our community, regardless of their immigration status. In my district in Yolo County, which includes the City of Davis, City of Winters and the University of California, Davis, (UC Davis), many of the young people who attend UC Davis are first generation college students, DACA youth, or are undocumented. UC Davis is ranked as one of the top public universities in the nation, and these young people contribute greatly to its success.

SPEAK provides small emergency grants to undocumented UC Davis students to help with critical expenses when money gets tight. They are among the hardest working people I have met, but have little access to the basic resources other students take for granted. I know of cases where students chose not to eat or buy textbooks to make ends meet. During these challenging COVID-19 times with less work opportunities available, these students need our support now more than ever.

I invite you to join me in supporting the SPEAK program to offer critical support and community to these students.

In shared service,
Don Saylor, Yolo County Supervisor, District 2
Member, Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis

Immigrant Housing in Chalice House

The need for housing for immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. is critically important. In a recently released report, the National Immigrant Justice Center described immigration detention centers as a “sprawling network of wasteful prisons operated by for-profit companies, county jails, and a small number of processing centers owned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that are interchangeable from jails in structure and practice.”

Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist (Palatine, IL) currently owns a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house, and we are partnering with Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants (ICDI) to convert this home into transitional housing for immigrants seeking asylum.

It’s our goal for the home to be ready for a family by sometime in 2nd Quarter 2020.

Chalice House is a shared project whereby ICDI provides ongoing services and support to its asylum-seeking clients, while Countryside and donors like you provide housing and hospitality. Community-based housing such as Chalice House offers alternatives to detention while an immigrant’s case is pending so that families can stay together and immigrants don’t experience additional trauma in immigration detention centers.

ICDI is a non-profit, faith-based organization that provides housing and other services to immigrants released from ICE detention. An ICDI case manager connects people to educational, ESL, religious, health, and legal services. By providing a supportive and caring environment and trauma-informed care, ICDI seeks to help people heal and adjust to life in the U.S. while they wait for future court dates or work permits.

Chalice House is a way to build the beloved community right here, right now. But we can’t do it alone — this is where the support from you can come in. In addition to seeking the support (both financial and volunteer) of areas congregations and community groups, we are seeking support from individuals who support this cause.

If, for any reason, Chalice House does not come to fruition, all funds will go directly to ICDI to support other community housing for immigrants.

Sanctuary for Rosa!

I took sanctuary because I love my children and do not want to leave my country. I want to fight from here. -- Rosa Gutierrez Lopez

Eighteen months after voting to become a sanctuary congregation, Cedar Lane welcomed our first guest into physical sanctuary.

Rosa Gutiérrez López was scheduled for deportation the morning of December 10, 2018.  She would have left behind three U.S.-born children and a full life – work, her own church community, friends, and more.  Instead, she made the difficult decision to come into sanctuary at Cedar Lane, determined to continue to fight her legal case.

Imagine Rosa were your mother. Your daughter, your sister, your wife. I want you to imagine that until it hurts your heart. Until it disturbs your mind. Unti it makes you weep and you find the courageous love to fight for Rosa and end these cagings, separations, and deportations. -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, President, Repairers of the BreachImmediately our Sanctuary Leadership Team sprang into action.  Putting the finishing touches on what would be Rosa’s living space and stocking the fridge were first on the list, but they quickly moved on to training volunteers, creating systems for communications, and seeking answers to all the questions we never anticipated.

We are now eleven months in – and Rosa’s three children have joined her in residence at Cedar Lane.  Her children’s presence is a blessing.  Rosa deeply missed them while they finished the school year in their home town.  She is gratified to see them every day – preparing their meals, checking homework, guiding their growth and development.

Cedar Lane congregants and others have stepped up in ways we only hoped for, giving generously of their time, talent, and financial support.  But we cannot do this alone.

We are now turning to you, the greater UU community and beyond, to help us support Rosa through this next phase of sanctuary.  The costs of sanctuary are more than Cedar Lane can bear alone, and due to the long delays in the immigration court system, we expect our guest and her family will be with us for as long as 18 more months – or perhaps longer.

Can you help us raise $12,500 in the next month?

Your donation will help cover the cost of groceries and personal care items; school supplies; new clothes as the seasons change and Rosa’s children grow; educational outings and fun activities for the kids; background checks for volunteers; and out of pocket healthcare expenses, as well as other professional support for the family as they navigate this new reality.

Meeting our goal will help ensure our sanctuary program is on strong financial footing for whatever may come — and however long it may take.

Thank you.  Thank you for your support of Rosa, her family, and Cedar Lane.  Thank you for your commitment to building a more just world.

***

Our partners:  We would not have been able to sustain our sanctuary work to date without the support of hundreds of volunteers who give thousands of hours of their time each month.  In addition to Cedar Lane members, many come from religious institutions that are members of Congregation Action Network, a group of 70+ congregations in the DC/MD/VA area that is committed to providing support and solidarity to our neighbors who fear being detained, deported, or profiled.  CAN has provided trusted guidance to Cedar Lane’s lay leaders and staff.

Read more:  Rosa’s story has garnered media coverage from across the globe.  You can read some of the most comprehensive stories here:

Sanctuary is saying ‘yes,’ to our deepest religious and spiritual values, those values that compel us to care for the vulnerable, to welcome the immigrant, to organize society around the needs of the poor. Sanctuary is calling on our elected officials to fix our broken immigration system, so that congregations such as ours no longer have to use our physical spaces to protect human lives. -- Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Cedar Lane UU Church

Sanctuary Travel Fund

The Cambridge Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition (CISC) is a small group of Cambridge, Boston, and area congregations walking the journey with people facing deportation and unjust laws. 

CISC is committed to following the lead of people who are facing the greatest risks, while honoring their strength and resilience. CISC currently helps to support a woman (and her two children) who fears for her life if deported to her country of origin.

As part of our sanctuary efforts, there is an urgent, repeated, and ongoing need for funds to support the team of people who accompanies our guest to her out-of-state court hearings, and other important sanctuary journeys. This Faithify campaign will help off-set the cost of this vital travel, including food, airfare, and ground transportation. 

Supporting the travel fund helps us continue doing what we do. Thank you for being part of our sanctuary efforts.

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Sponsorship of Asylum-Seeking Immigrants

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.

Bike safety check with a church volunteer 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.  

Community Church Sanctuary and Immigrant Support Steering Committee Steering Committee session.

Building Sanctuary in Madison, WI

Faithify Project Description

This past November, James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Madison, Wisconsin voted overwhelmingly to support the New Sanctuary Movement by becoming a host site for an immigrant facing deportation. To answer this call of witness and action, we will need to convert part of a large multipurpose room at the rear of our church into a guest room, install a shower in an existing bathroom, and make other renovations to conform to local codes. A professional architect from our congregation has drawn up plans and solicited construction bids. We expect the cost for the entire project to reach up to $30,000. Our Sanctuary  Leadership Team at James Reeb is seeking small grants and also planning  fundraising events to generate the rest of the funds necessary to complete the project.

We are not alone in this endeavor! James Reeb belongs to the Dane Sanctuary Coalition, which organizes congregations and organizations to provide physical sanctuary to our immigrant friends and neighbors at risk of deportation. We do this as part of the national New Sanctuary Movement.

There are currently seven congregations (at four sites) that offer sanctuary in Madison. Two are Unitarian Universalist, two United Church of Christ (UCC), one Lutheran, one Mennonite and one Jewish. (James Reeb is the only potential hosting site on the east side of Madison.) A dozen other congregations and several other community organizations offer other forms of support. Plymouth Congregational UCC, our neighbor on Madison’s east side, is also partnering with us on this project. We all continue to take our lead from two local organizations, Voces de la Frontera and Centro Hispano.

Our coalition opposes mean-spirited, cruel and immoral immigration policies that terrorize communities and violate human rights.  Our faith teaches us that all people have inherent worth and dignity and that everyone deserves to live free from violence and deprivation.  When our government tears apart families, executes unarmed immigrants, and sends refugees into the hands of their persecutors, we find ourselves compelled to act. This vision impels us to stand together in solidarity with our immigrant and refugee friends and neighbors, to offer our support and help, and to provide Sanctuary to those in need. We invite you to join us in this work! Please donate generously to our Sanctuary building fund.

Help Us Build Sanctuary

In April of 2017, the congregation of the First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island voted overwhelmingly to become a Sanctuary Church. In the months since then, we have been hard at work creating a space, making community connections and coming up with a plan for how we will carry this out. We are currently the only church in RI we know of close to being ready to offer sanctuary. 

Extra seating doubles as a sleeping area for family.

Extra seating doubles as a sleeping area for family.

One of the final hurdles we face in being ready to take in a guest is to install a shower in our building.  This is why we are launching this campaign. We need to raise money to install our shower, replace the current sink and plumbing in the room, add a countertop to the kitchen area, and install a lock on the door. These items will make our sanctuary space feel like a home away from home for the guest or family who seeks our help. Can you help us meet our fundraising goal of $7,500.00?

If for some reason we are not able to fulfill our goal of becoming a sanctuary church, we will donate any unused funds to another sanctuary project in our area.

This journey we are embarking on is filled with uncertainty, but as Unitarian Universalists, we feel called to stand with and support those in our community who are vulnerable to unjust deportation. We feel called to resist those who would break up families and communities based on discrimination, fear, and hate. We thank you for considering our call to help.