Speak out for those who cannot speak, 

for the rights of all the destitute.   

Speak out, judge righteously, 

defend the rights of the poor and needy.  

-Proverbs 31: 8-9 (NRSV)

 

Interfaith Welcome Coalition – Advocating for asylum seekers and at-risk immigrants

 

The Interfaith Welcome Coalition began its ministry of hospitality almost a decade ago in response to the first “unaccompanied minor” crisis at our southern border.  Children were being held in sub-standard conditions and people of faith and conscience were called to respond in constructive ways.  

As the second such crisis is unfolding in our region, IWC continues to provide that essential ministry of hospitality to asylum seekers of all ages and to other at-risk immigrants.  

We have known for some time that the material-social-spiritual support that demonstrates IWC hospitality is not enough.  IWC volunteers must take the wisdom they have gained from interacting with people seeking asylum; people made vulnerable by having to flee their countries of origin for safety and made vulnerable by an asylum system that has been largely dismantled. 

We believe that advocacy–described in Proverbs as the act of “Speak[ing] out for those who cannot speak–is part of the golden rule.  People of all faiths and conscience recognize that part of the human condition is to defend the rights of the most vulnerable.  It is our vocation–calling–to be a voice for those who cannot speak and to amplify words seeking justice.

IWC is blessed and burdened with this responsibility.  Our Advocacy Committee is committed to leveraging the wisdom of our volunteers to help inform efforts at immigration reform and restoring dignity to our asylum process.  We have identified the work of national organizations who published the 2021 Immigration Action Plan as the foundation to our local efforts.  In particular, the IWC Advocacy Committee is focused on: 

Action Item # 7 

Phase Out Immigration Jails and Fund Community-Based Case Management Programs: End family detention and contracts with private prisons and county jails, apply a presumption of release and invest in community-based case management programs. 

We will stand in solidarity with every effort to improve circumstances for asylum seekers and at-risk immigrants arriving to and transiting through our community.  The wisdom we have to offer stems from IWC’s location in South TX in proximity to 2 of the 3 existing detention centers that are equipped to house families and our volunteers tireless efforts to provide hospitality to those families in San Antonio as they prepare to be reunified with family elsewhere around the country.  These factors make our collective experience relevant to policy makers working to re-humanize America’s asylum process and larger immigration system.  

The Advocacy Committee invites IWC volunteers to participate in the following:

  • Relationship building efforts to inform local, state and federal elected officials about experiences working with immigrants in transit
  • Letter writing campaigns to elected officials
  • Social media campaigns with elected officials
  • Research and development of policy papers pertaining to immigration detention and community based services for immigrants

 

People interested in joining the IWC Advocacy Committee should e-mail iwcadvocacycommittee@gmail.comWe are always in need of people who are social media savvy, have a passionate voice, and know the immigration issues. 

What you’ll do:

  • Speak out concerning any bills filed in the current legislative session that would affect asylum seekers, refugees, and at-risk immigrants.
  • Receive/share opportunities to engage in protests, marches, or campaigns related to asylum seekers, refugees, and at-risk immigrants.
  • Receive training to do presentations on local, state and federal policies/practices that impact asylum seekers,  refugees, and at-risk immigrants.
  • Become a point person for your faith community to be a source of information regarding all immigration issues.
  • Collaborate with other organizations which work with asylum seekers, refugees, and at-risk immigrants and support their work.
  • Participate in interfaith prayer services.

When: The Advocacy Committee currently meets the first Monday of every month at 8:00 pm.

Where: via Zoom

Why: To “Speak out for those who cannot speak…[to] defend the rights of the poor and needy.  

 

Indicate on your volunteer application your interest in this committee!

Advocate for refugees

Take Five for Advocacy

“One of the most crucial kinds of intervention is in advocacy. We can think about charities in the context of delivering services, and indeed that is part of their job, but advocacy is also getting governments to step up to the plate. They can also give more voice to those who don’t have one.”
— Nicholas Kristof

photo courtesy of Jewish Refugee Services

Take Five to Support Afghan Refugees!

We’ve all seen the heartbreaking pictures of Afghans fleeing in the wake of U.S. withdrawal. Take five minutes to join the organizations below in urging our elected representatives to support our Afghan allies, many of whom supported us at the risk of their lives and families.

American Friends Service Committee
“The U.S. government has a responsibility to assist Afghans wishing to emigrate — while also working to support humanitarian aid and protection of human rights for those who remain.” Click here to sign the letter to your senators and President Biden.

Jewish Refugee Service
“As the situation continues to rapidly deteriorate, and Afghans are being forced to make drastic decisions to flee their homes and protect their families, we encourage you to join us in speaking out.”  Click here to sign the letter to your senators, representatives, and President Biden.

Sisters of Mercy
“The United States has a responsibility to protect these Afghans who put their own lives at risk to further the U.S. mission and
now face severe repression and death.” Click here to sign the letter to your senators, representatives, Secretary of State Blinken, and President Biden.

National Immigration Forum

“Afghan allies and their families risked everything to serve alongside our troops and diplomats, and Afghan refugees are fleeing an increasingly desperate situation.”  Click here to sign the letter to President Biden.

Church World Service
“Tens of thousands of our Afghan allies are in imminent danger and face retaliation and death by the Taliban….Action must be taken now.” Click here to call or email your senators and representatives.

Take Five to Oppose HB 9

Take five minutes to comment on Texas House Bill 9, just filed in special session, which proposes to use $1.8 billion of Texans’ taxpayer money to criminalize immigrants and asylum seekers (see this article for info). Texas advocates, submit a comment against the bill here.