“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’Matthew 25:35-36
By tomorrow, Thursday, May 11, at 11:59 pm ET, Title 42 will be lifted. If you recall, under Title 42 border officials are allowed to expel migrants they encounter at the US/Mexico border immediately rather than moving forward with the standard processing which includes legal provisions that allow migrants to register an asylum claim. The original intent of Title 42 under the previous administration and extended by the present administration, is meant to ensure public health protections for the American public; basically, to curb the tide of infection rates and deaths due to Covid-19 and its many variants. Both the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection have been implementing Title 42 since 2020 and as a result over 2.8 million migrants have been immediately expelled from the US, many sent back to their countries of origin where they have faced violence, brutal reprisals, and death at the hands of criminal gangs. The end of Title 42 will undoubtedly be the beginning of many challenges. The administration has been anticipating the many challenges by working with regional partners throughout the hemisphere in order to set up regional processing centers, pursue diplomatic solutions that prioritize the humane management of regional borders, and the deployment of the CBP One app to ensure that migrants can apply for asylum in their countries of origin or along migratory routes. The goal is to provide as many lawful pathways and opportunities for individuals facing forced migration.
In the midst of all of the impending changes and challenges, I would like to provide you with an update of how we as a diocese are responding and to provide some guidance on how to help out.
Through the work of Cruzando Fronteras we are raising awareness, mobilizing resources, and fundraising to continue the impactful work being led by Sister Lika and her team of leaders at La Casa de Misericordia y de Todas Naciones shelter in, Nogales, Sonora. Given that Cruzando is an ecumenical partnership between the Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA and the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ, our goal is to continue challenging our respective faith communities to join the fight for migrant justice and to support the work of La Casa by donating needed resources and giving generously. We ask you to continue to support Cruzando Fronteras so that those facing forced migration have an opportunity to pursue their asylum claim through a safe, orderly, and humane process.
La Casa de Misericordia y de Todas Naciones Shelter, Nogales, Sonora.
At La Casa, Sister Lika Macias and her team of leaders have been working to prepare all of the residents for the eventual sunset of Title 42 and its potential aftermath. A major part of this work has been to ensure that shelter residents have access to the US Department of Homelands Security’s new asylum app, CBP One. CBP One is a smartphone app that serves to process asylum claims virtually and from the convenience of an individual’s country of origin or from any location along migratory routes. One of the challenges that we’ve seen and have addressed is the lack of technology needed in order to download and use CBP One. Many migrants do not have smartphones that can support the technical requirements for the use of this new platform. We’ve been blessed at La Casa by a partner that donated several smartphones precisely for the use of CBP One. Sister Lika and her team have been working around the clock to ensure that residents are able to gather all of the pertinent information in order to make a strong asylum claim through CBP One. They’ve also worked very hard to help residents lock in appointments that will not separate families. This morning the White House provided stakeholders a briefing about improvements that have been made over the course of the last 24 hours to CBP One; improvements that include expanding the number of cases being accepted to 1000 a day. La Casa leaders have regular meetings with CBP leaders and Mexican local, state, and federal agencies in order to ensure that hiccups are kept to a minimum.
One of the greatest challenges we’ve faced is dealing with misinformation. Many asylum seekers have been misguided by bad information about the end of Title 42 and they’ve taken drastic and dangerous measures to cross the US/Mexico border in an irregular manner. Some risk the danger at the hands of criminal gangs or the unforgiving conditions of the desert terrain. Sister Lika and her leaders have been providing the most up-to-date information and doing their best to keep spirits up.
Welcoming our Neighbors
So how can you help? Begin with prayer. Please remember our migrating neighbors in your daily prayers, during dinner, and in the evening. Pray for the many volunteers and leaders that are serving migrants at shelters, churches, respite centers, and processing centers; that God keeps them safe and healthy as they welcome strangers in need of help and care. Pray for our country, for our leaders so that our country can reflect compassionate values of welcome and care, and make good on our international obligation to those seeking asylum.
When it comes to working with local and regional non-profit organizations, a few of my fellow border ministry leaders suggest working with work with trusted local agencies involved in working with asylum seekers. They also warned about making sure to vet the organization of your choice so as to ensure that your donation of time or money is used ethically and for direct aid of asylum seekers. If you reach out to an organization, please recognize that many are very busy staging and prepping for the anticipated impacts of the end of Title 42; overcrowding at local shelters, managing volunteers, and keeping employees and clients healthy, safe, and encouraged are top priorities. If you do not hear back from an organization, please understand that they are very busy but will get back to you as soon as possible.
Another piece of advice, please do not simply show up at a shelter or welcome center. Many of these organizations have a volunteer portal where you can sign up and provide the organization with the information they need in order to clear and approve you as an official volunteer. If you desire to make a financial donation, most organizations provide links and lists of needed items that you can purchase and ship with one click. I am honored to serve as your diocesan canon for border ministries. What I’ve witnessed across our diocese are communities that are committed to accompanying our migrating neighbors as they seek a safer and brighter future. I pray that you join me in prayer, reach out to me if you would like to know how to be involved, and remember to pray for the work of Cruzando Fronteras and La Casa de Misericordia, as together we seek to share the love and welcome of God to all of God’s beloved children. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Amen.