One cannot miss hearing about the U.S. immigration problems—especially in Arizona—as information is on every news medium daily. Who are these immigrants? Why are they here? What is our responsibility for them?
Members of our Social Justice Team (SJT) have been involved in working with asylum seekers (asylees) at the Revolution Church in Tolleson. The Reverend Raul Salgado and his parishioners have been providing food; at least one or two nights’ shelter; showers; clothing and travel arrangements for these men, women and children who have been given approval to seek asylum. They are here upon acknowledgment of a legitimate fear of persecution and have been forced to flee their country because of that persecution, war, or violence. They are brought to this church, and many others in the Phoenix area, in preparation for their continued journey to a relative or friend while waiting for approval of asylum through the courts—which may take from 6 months to several years.
But who are they? Those that we have worked with are from mountain areas of Central America’s Golden Triangle—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. 90% of those who seek shelter at Revolution Church are from Guatemala and 10% from Honduras. Most speak no English (or very little). They are single mothers and single fathers traveling with one or more children, including infants. They arrive in groups of 50 to 100 disheveled, in need of a shower, and hungry. It’s primarily members of that church who can communicate with them, but unfortunately, they are so very busy preparing food, finding clothing that fits, and arranging transportation to their next location, there is little time for just conversation. Our SJT has provided clothing and incidentals; sorted bags and boxes of clothing by size, gender and purpose; after the shower, searched for clothing that fits the recipient; served food; provided and packaged small packets of food to be taken with them on their next journey; and provided transportation to the airport or bus station.
But, we and about 50 of Rev. Selgado’s church members, are not the only ones who provide help. Volunteers from several churches and volunteer health workers check for fevers and provide meds as necessary while looking for any serious health problems. In addition, several retired doctors bring donuts for them.
Though we do not speak their language and they do not speak ours, it is evident that they proud, thankful for our help, and respond with smiles, hugs, and “gracias” (thank you) for all that is being done on their behalf. Those we have seen are loving towards their children The children are typical of those we all know—fun-loving, can’t resist a ball, and often cling close to their parent. Yes, it takes a village and more, it takes a nation to resolve this problem in a humanitarian way.
…inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. –Matthew 25:40
God willing, may we continue to be a part of the necessary village.