SUPPORT IMMIGRANTS

How You Can Help During August 2021

Witnessing God’s love for all people, we stand with and advocate for immigrants through partnership, direct action, education, and support for local immigrants, as well as related organizations.

As part of our advocacy program, the Immigrant Welcoming Work Group compiles actions and local events held in support of immigrants and immigration issues. We urge you to perform some of these actions and/or attend some of the events! Content is updated monthly.

If you take any action listed in this summary, please notify Tom Haigh, jthaigh45 (at) gmail.com, for tracking purposes. If you have content for future updates, please submit to Janine Sieja, janinesieja (at) gmail.com.

  1. NEW In the wake of a Texas judge’s order to partially end DACA, petition President Biden and Congress to create a path to citizenship, before the August congressional recess. The reconciliation package before Congress must protect undocumented people, including DACA recipients, TPS holders, farmworkers and essential workers. Sign a petition, or dial 832-610-3896 (or make a phone connection online) to speak with your Senator. SPONSOR: United We Dream.
  1. NEW Tell President Biden to reopen the U.S. border to asylum seekers. Since March 2020, a Trump administration order has resulted in deportations of more than 643,000 people, including children. Today, thousands of migrants are stranded along the Mexican side of the border in makeshift camps and other unsanitary conditions without access to adequate support services, where they face high rates of kidnappings and violence. Ask the Biden administration to stop these expulsions, and protect the health, safety, and human rights of all who seek refuge at the southern border. SPONSOR: American Friends Service Committee.
  1. NEW Urge bold action on immigration using an easy, step-by-step letter-writing guide. Add your voice to those calling on President Biden to keep the promise—urge him to make good on the decades-long pledges Democrats have made to the immigrant community. SPONSOR: The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).
  1. NEW Urge your U.S. representative to support the Palestinian Children and Families Act.R. 2590 halts U.S. taxpayer funding of any Israeli government actions against Palestinian youth and property. Tell you representative not to fund human rights violations—Palestinians are refugees on their own land. SPONSOR: American Friends Service Committee.
  2. Express support of comprehensive immigration reform to Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and encourage their efforts toward bipartisan action. Unless Republicans join Democrats, there is no chance of a reform measure passing. Let Klobuchar and Smith know regularly that this is an issue of tremendous importance to their constituents by calling their Minnesota and D.C. offices—you could alternate every week.
    • Amy Klobuchar: 612-727-5220, 202-224-3244
    • Tina Smith: 651-221-1016, 202-224-5641

Talking points:

  • We must have comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to
    citizenship for over 11 million immigrants without documents.
  • We are especially concerned about protection from deportation for resettled
    refugees who often have green cards but have not yet become citizens, but they
    are facing deportation because they committed a crime.
  • After having lived in the U.S. for a median of 15 years, they are being
    jailed by ICE and facing return to a country they often no longer know and facing
    separation from their spouses and kids.
  • This is cruel and unusual punishment. It is inhumane, unjust and uncivilized.
  • It’s emotional and psychological torture of those being deported and their
    loved ones remaining in the United States.
  1. Tell your state legislator to supportrelief for immigrants and refugees with old convictions. The Post-Conviction Relief Bill (H.F. 833) creates a pathway for people whose records would have triggered immediate consequences such as deportation to be reviewed by a judge. SPONSOR: Coalition of Asian American Leaders.
  1. Demand that the Biden administrationreunite families in the United States who have been forcibly separated and provide relief—find the missing parents, provide immediate protections, establish resources, make systemic changes and hold those responsible accountable. Families deserve citizenship, care and a commitment that it will never happen again. SPONSOR: American Civil Liberties Union.
  1. NEW Visit the exhibition of the Angels Unawares sculpture at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Aug. 1-30. Various special events, including a closing ceremony on Aug. 26, will be held during the exhibition. Also consider donating your time to staff an information table for the Minnesota Sanctuary State Coalition—volunteers are needed 4-7pm Aug. 7, 12, 14, 21. The bronze sculpture depicts migrants from different cultural and racial backgrounds from different historic eras, huddled on a raft. The coalition will provide literature to distribute and talking points for discussion. For more information, email Tom Haigh.
  1. NEW Join a monthly vigil to stand with our immigrant neighbors who are facing deportation, and stand in opposition to ICE practices that dehumanize and terrorize. This month’s vigil will be held at 7:30am Tuesday, Aug. 10, at the Basilica of St. Mary, site of the Angels Unawares exhibition (rather than the Whipple Federal Building). For more information, email Tom Haigh. SPONSOR: Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (ICOM).
  1. Review your investments to ensure they align with your values. Are you supporting corporations that profit from private prisons and detention centers, or violate worker rights in other countries? Learn to discern and make changes accordingly. SPONSOR: American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).
  1. The Asylum Coalition for Transition – Twin Cities (ACT-TC) needs help furnishing a home for an asylum-seeking family who will be living at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Hopkins. ACT-TC is an informal group of interfaith congregations who are compelled by faith to actively befriend the stranger. You can donate needed items (new or gently used) or gift cards (Target or Cub) via SignUpGenius. Gift cards can be mailed to the church at 500 Blake Road South, Hopkins, MN 55343 (note the campaign). You can drop off donated items at the church Monday-Thursday during normal working hours, but please call 952-935-3457 to confirm someone is available to receive your donation. For questions, contact Paul Bohnsack at bohnsackps@frontiernet.net.
  1. Help the Green Valley – Sahuarita Samaritans put water in the desert, among other kind services for migrants. They are a worthy organization doing valuable work.
  1. Buy a handmade bordado from an Etsy shop and support women refugees.
  1. Support the Casa Alitas program, which serves migrant families who have left their home countries to escape violence and poverty by providing short-term shelter and help to reunite with family members in the United States.

Learning and Teaching

  1. Read the Center for Victims of Torture’snew backgrounder, “Arbitrary & Cruel: How U.S. Immigration Detention Violates the Convention against Torture and Other International Obligations,” which illustrates how the dehumanizing and cruel policies and practices in the immigration detention system violate the Convention against Torture, and makes the case that the system must be eliminated for the United States to comply with international law.
  1. Watch two short videos (one minute each) by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS): One shares a truly terrifying projection of 100,000 unaccompanied children at the U.S. Mexico border this year; the other is a lovely prayer for migrant children.
  1. Check out this beautiful and powerful “visual op-ed” (“cartoon” doesn’t do it justice!) on border wall construction.
  1. Guest columnist Brian Fauver, who hosted two asylum seekers in his home, argues in Boulder Weekly—in well-reasoned detail—why migrants need compassion, not surveillance.
  1. The Biden administration’s prioritization of immigration is encouraging, but there is a critical priority that has yet to be addressed: ICE’s deadly and inhumane detention system. Detention Watch Network created analyses and recommendations to help us collectively make sense of the shifting political landscape:
  1. Read any of the diverse and fascinating articles about unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border in the collection Opinions in Print by the Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans.
  1. Listen to a Minnesota Public Radio story on the role of immigrants in our state’s economy, based on a report from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce showing that residents born outside the U.S. spent more than $12.4 billion in Minnesota and paid $4.5 billion in taxes in 2019. Mexico, Somalia, India and Laos are the top four countries of birth for Minnesota immigrants.

If you take any action listed in this summary, please notify Tom Haigh for tracking purposes. If you have content for future updates, please submit to Janine Sieja.

 

Book Review

The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border (Riverhead Books, 2018) by Francisco Cantú

Reviewed by Joan Thompson

In our pandemic time of being mainly at home, social media filled with photographs of lovely meals made when restaurants were not an option. These images certainly should have been a reminder of those who could not remain at home: the migrants who cultivate and pick our fruits and vegetables, and the immigrants, many undocumented, who sex the chickens and butcher the meat and poultry that fill our plates.

After college years spent studying international relations and borders, Francisco Cantú decides to learn more about the U.S./Mexico border by becoming a Border Patrol agent, much to his mother’s distress.  In his engaging and important book, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border, he relates this experience and the ways in which it impacts his life long after he leaves the job.

Cantú, fluent in Spanish, part Mexican American, and raised along the border, soon understands his mother’s fears that he might lose himself in this job. While he encounters those transporting drugs, he also witnesses his co-workers scattering migrants’ belongings in the desert and destroying their water.  He tries to help migrants injured during harsh and dangerous journeys through serving as an EMT, but he realizes he is still turning those he helps over for deportation. After time on the Arizona border becomes increasingly stressful, he takes a desk job but then accepts a transfer to El Paso and more time on the border.

Four years into the job, his dreams and his memories of migrants he has encountered become ever more haunting. He accepts an opportunity to continue his studies, giving him a reason to leave the Border Patrol. While working as a barista, he becomes friends with a man from Mexico named José, who works nearby and visits with him daily. When José is swept up by Immigration and is to appear at Operation Streamline, which rapidly processes up to 75 migrants for deportation daily, Cantú gets involved in helping José and his family. In one haunting chapter, the deported José speaks to his desperate situation and that of his wife and growing sons.

Between anecdotes and recounted dreams, Cantú includes well-researched sections on the history of the border, his own family’s history, border policies through time, and philosophers and writers who speak to the ways in which these policies dehumanize migrants.

Readers should be certain to continue past the Epilogue to read the Author’s Note in which Cantú explores the ways in which border crossers are reduced to numbers. He connects the border he has experienced from multiple sides to issues of migration elsewhere in the world, as well as to the words of those who argue for treating migrants with empathy and granting them individual identities. Cantú also includes suggestions for further reading and a list of ways one can get involved with helping migrants, making his book one meant to stay with the reader.