Saturday Meals for Asylum Seekers

Saturday Meals for Asylum Seekers

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by Dawn Adams
SNEUCC Immigration, Refugee, and Asylum Task Team

You all have probably seen and heard about the growing humanitarian crisis at our southern borders. There are many people who are seeking asylum, including unaccompanied minors, that have reached our borders looking for help. Under the new administration, these people are being processed and their cases considered. However, due to the extreme downsizing of our immigration system previously, there is a growing need for care and resources at our southern border.
Read more about this from Church World Service.

Some of you and your churches may be wondering how you can help. We, the Immigration, Refugee, and Asylum Task Team of the SNEUCC, would like to offer an opportunity to you.  Below is a letter from the minister of First Church UCC Phoenix, Rev. Susan Valiquette. In her letter, she names a very specific way that we can support the people seeking asylum by supporting the local churches at the southern border who are doing the work needed. We at the task team believe that this is an excellent way to care for our siblings and want to challenge ministers and churches within the SNEUCC to support this mission of mercy, justice, and love.

The task team itself has already raised $500 amongst its members which is enough to sponsor two meals and feed over 150 people, and we have already received commitments from two churches to do the same. Please read this letter and consider what God may be calling you and your community to do.

 ASYLUM SEEKER WEEKEND MEAL SPONSORSHIP

In Phoenix, we are experiencing an increase of asylum seekers that are being released from detention and on their way to family members or sponsors throughout the United Sates. The Phoenix Welcome Center provides humanitarian assistance to these asylum-seekers released from federal immigration custody. This humanitarian assistance includes food, shelter, medicine, clothing, legal orientation, and travel assistance. The Welcome Center is primarily operated by the International Rescue Committee with the support of faith-based groups and other community organizations.

Asylum-seekers are following a legal process to seek safety under federal law. They are often families with children, primarily from Latin American countries. Since February 2021, the number of asylum seekers arriving in the U.S. and in Phoenix has risen significantly, with an average of 50-100 people arriving daily in recent weeks. All asylum-seekers have sponsors, usually family members, in the U.S. In most cases, these sponsors are outside of the Phoenix area and they leave the Welcome Center to travel to their sponsor’s home in 24-48 hours. In partnership with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, all asylum seekers are tested for COVID-19 and those who test positive are referred to quarantine.

There is currently no dedicated federal, state, or local funding for this work, and all humanitarian assistance is provided from community donations and volunteering. Please consider supporting our efforts to welcome these families to the U.S.

Once a week, representatives from the International Rescue Committee (Welcome Center), Refugee Aid, Jews for Justice, Lutheran Social Services, Jewish Community Relations Council, Arizona Faith Network, the Unitarian Church of Paradise Valley, Shadow Rock UCC and First Church UCC, Phoenix, meet to receive updates and organize to assist the efforts of the Welcome Center.
 
First Church, UCC Phoenix has undertaken to organize prepared meals for the asylum seekers on the weekends. The Welcome Center does not have a licensed kitchen so they cannot prepare meals. The Health Inspector has already visited to ensure they are not cooking in the kitchen. Currently we are ordering food from El Salvadoran Restaurant. This is a food truck and restaurant family-owned local business. https://salvadorenorestaurant.com/salvadoreno_restaurant_locations/ They are preparing pupusas, rice and beans for 75 people for a cost of $250.00. We have First Church UCC volunteers who can collect and deliver the food. We are also adding fresh fruit for the meal.

If your church or organization is interested in learning more about our work to how to sponsor meals, please visit us on Facebook or at our website phoenixucc.org/donate

Rev Susan Valiquette
Pastor, First Church UCC, Phoenix
 

Author

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Dawn Adams

Dawn Adams is a member of the Immigration, Refugee and Asylum Task Team, and pastor of First Congregational Church of Brimfield, UCC (MA).

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