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 email@example.com. We 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!