Answering The Needs Of Immigrant Detainees Despite Pandemic
Richard Spies of First UMC Dallas explains how we can still be a welcoming presence
“... For … I was a stranger and you welcomed me …” Matthew 25:35
Many of us are reading this from the safety of our own homes, as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by sheltering in place and practicing the art of social distancing. Unfortunately, many of our brothers and sisters don’t have the ability or comfort of doing this.
There are currently between 40,000 and 50,000 immigrant detainees being held in conditions that are significantly overcrowded and that lack the most basic of personal hygiene and preventative products, such as soap, sanitizer or toilet paper. In addition to this population, those waiting in camps across the border under the Migrant Protection Protocols, and immigrant children being held in U.S. custody are also at high risk. When – not if – COVID-19 is diagnosed in these facilities, it will be devastating to these communities. Measures such as providing badly needed personal and sanitizing products, adequate medical support, and the release of detainees could all help reduce this imminent danger.
The Immigration Task Force, part of our Mission and Advocacy ministry at First UMC Dallas, asks you to prayerfully consider Christ’s call to welcome strangers to our land. What is happening to these vulnerable groups of strangers seeking a safer life for themselves and their loved ones is far from welcoming, but we can all help.
Here are some ways we can help right now:
- Make your voice heard with your representatives in government
- Become part of Texas Impact’s Rapid Response Team. Texas Impact is a statewide religious grassroots network whose members include individuals, congregations and governing bodies of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. Texas Impact exists to advance state public policies that are consistent with universally held social principles of the Abrahamic traditions. You’ll be alerted to make time-sensitive contact with Texas legislators on key issues.
- Let your Washington representatives hear from you
- Stay informed and engaged on social media on behalf of these women, men and children who are currently voiceless.
- Advocate against xenophobia. The term “illegals” is often used to label and demonize the immigrant detainee population, when most have committed no crime but rather have legally applied for asylum in the United States. Be aware of and speak out against terms that cause them to be seen as “other” and as people to be feared. Our faith calls us to see them as our sisters and brothers equally beloved by God and to care for and help them accordingly.
Lord, give us hearts of love, compassion and courage. Help us help our brothers and sisters seeking safety and a new life as we heed the words and example of Jesus. Amen
Published: Monday, April 13, 2020