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Immigration

 

Welcome to the Lumen Christi Social Justice Committee’s Immigration Action Campaign!  COVID-19 has us stuck at home, and national and civil events can leave us feeling paralyzed. But, we can still make a difference.

Our immigrant community, always marginalized and vulnerable, has been deeply affected by the pandemic and unrest. You can help! Each month, we will present information about a different immigration organization or immigration issue, with links to learn more, and ways to get involved (either virtually or in-person). Our voices and our efforts are still powerful. Contact John by email or the parish office with any questions.

“…Let us preach you without preaching, not by words but by our example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to you.” – Cardinal John Henry Newman

 

Circle of Welcome 

Educate

Legal immigrants typically come to the US through 3 types of immigration: family-based immigration, employment-based immigration, and humanitarian immigration.

Under humanitarian immigration, refugees file petitions to come to the US outside of the country.  Asylum seekers petition to remain in the US when they present to a US border or are already in the US. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her home because of war, violence or persecution, often without warning. They are unable to return home unless and until conditions in their native lands are safe for them again.  An official entity such as a government or the United Nations Refugee Agency determines whether a person seeking international protection meets the definition of a refugee, based on well-founded fear.  Those who obtain refugee status are given protections under international laws and conventions and lifesaving support from aid agencies, including the International Rescue Committee. Refugees in the U.S. also have the opportunity to become lawful permanent residents and eventually citizens.

Circle of Welcome was a refugee resettlement program of Lutheran Social Services (LSS).  Because of the low numbers of refugees coming to the US over the past 4 years, the Circle of Welcome program was suspended by LSS.

What about Catholics??  From the Catholic Charities website: “Catholic Charities Refugee Reception and Placement Program received its last arrival in May and the program closed permanently on September 30, 2018.”  Catholic   Charities had to close its refugee resettlement program for the same reason LSS suspended their program.

 

Advocate

Only 10,200 refugees were admitted to the United States during the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, down from 110,000 in 2016. The Biden administration is trying to change the caps set by the Trump administration prior to leaving office. You can contact your representatives to advocate for these changes.

https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-donald-trump-coronavirus-pandemic-dc238dd2f7f504eb34b8cb26e3d69ae6

 

Refugee Cap Set at Lowest Level Since Beginning of Program Despite Continuing Threats of Persecution

https://www.ilcm.org/latest-news/refugee-cap-set-at-lowest-level-since-beginning-of-program-despite-continuing-threats-of-persecution/

 

Donate

LSS has lots of ways for individuals or groups to help refugees:

https://www.lssmn.org/services/refugees/services/support-refugees

The Immigrant Law Center of MN also supports refugees as well as immigrants:

Donate

 

Circle of Welcome Update on Chantal and her family

It’s been nearly two years since our Congolese refugee family was greeted by Lumen Christi parishioners as they walked off the plane into their new lives in Minnesota.

 Chantal just this week sent three of her four green card applications. Hers, unfortunately, got hung up in a January law change that requires an additional medical examination. Her highest priority is to move her family along the path to become US citizens. Her dream was in part realized in Baby Joy, her beautiful daughter, born in St. Paul Minnesota in late January.

Mwamini, turning 4 this month, is relishing her Big Sister status. She’s counting the days until she can join her brothers on the school bus. Preschool starts in September! In the meantime, she’s wishing for a dog and a princess dress for her birthday. Hope she’s not too disappointed to unwrap a stuffed animal at her Zoom birthday gathering with Circle of Welcome Friends.

Louis (age 10) and Wema (9) were living the dream on the slopes of Mount Como this winter until the polar vortex interfered. Learning to snow board was a welcome relief to their days of virtual learning in their little apartment. They are thrilled that St. Paul Schools reopened for in-person learning.

But highlights of Chantal and the kids are only part of our Circle of Welcome update. When “strangers” become friends, our community is transformed.

Lumen Christi has touched this family in so many life-giving ways. After losing her first-ever job to Covid, Chantal felt the relief of knowing her April rent was covered and she’d have help finding other safety-net assistance as she sought new employment. Highland Catholic donated a retired iPad to give our Circle Friends virtual access to the kids to help with their learning, and a Hi-C family sent bikes for the kids. Angel Tree donors ensured there were Christmas presents under the tree.

Circle members have gotten an inner look at the unseen world of the social safety net, where teachers spend extra hours offering learning support to kids struggling with English and the discipline and savviness that online learning requires; where assistant principals and social workers uncover special programs like counseling and tutoring for young boys  eager to learn; where our Lutheran Social Services partners go above and beyond to help with immigration paperwork; where Health Partners medical and social services staff strive to keep a mother healthy and safely deliver a healthy baby girl; where grants, unemployment insurance, and food assistance help a mother pay the rent and feed her family as she looks for new jobs in a pandemic. We’ve watched what daycare closing does to a mother’s ability to work. We’ve seen the kind of jobs available to an immigrant with an emerging understanding of English and the lengths that immigrant will go to get and keep those jobs. We’ve seen that these life-sustaining services come to Chantal because she has advocates. And we pray for and push our legislators to support all those who struggle without the benefit of being surrounded by a Circle like Lumen Christi provides.

Thank you Lumen Christi for your generous support of Chantal and her family.

 

 

ICOM: Interfaith Coalition on Immigration Minnesota

ICOM “engages spiritual, multicultural action in solidarity with immigrants and refugees to achieve justice and stand up to systems of oppression.”

Some of their key initiatives include the following:

  • They hold vigils at the Whipple Federal Building at Fort Snelling on Tuesday mornings to support immigrants facing deportation and stand in opposition to ICE (U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement) practices that dehumanize and terrorize. Vigils are also held at key locations (such as the Sherburne County Jail) as issues arise.
  • ICOM AID (Accompanying Immigrants in Detention) is a branch of ICOM that allows volunteers to directly support immigrant detainees and their families in the Twin Cities.
  • ICOM also advocates for systemic change to policy structures to better protect human and civil rights of immigrants.

 

Educate/Learn

 

Advocate

The Dreamers need you! Contact our Minnesota US Senators about passing the Dream and Promise Act through the US Senate, which will protect Dreamers by giving them a way to become permanent residents. Our Senators need to know that we, their constituency, support DACA. Call, write, email—just don’t stay silent:

Click here for more info: We Need the Dream and Promise Act Now!

 

Communicate

Sign up for “Action alerts” from the Immigrant Law Center of MN (ILCM) to stay informed about immigration issues and how you can make a difference.

 

Donate

Donate via their website.  If donating for a specific cause or detainee, indicate what or who in the comment box:

 

Participate

Join “One Body,” ISAIAH’s committee of Catholics working toward justice for immigrants in Minnesota.

 

 

Casa Guadalupana

“Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve You as You deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will. Amen.” – St Ignatius of Loyola

 

Casa Guadalupana

Casa Guadalupana is a residence in West St. Paul offering housing and other related services to asylum seekers to the U.S.

The lives of Lumen Christi parishioners who have had the opportunity to interact with the Casa Guadalupana residents have been forever humbled and changed. Despite stories of extreme loss and hardship, the asylum seekers living in Casa Guadalupana possess a deep belief that the U.S. will welcome them into this country. You are invited to access the links provided to learn more about Casa Guadalupana and how its mission answers the call to promote dignity and decency to all human life.

 

Educate / Learn

Casa Guadalupana is a residence located in West St. Paul that provides housing and other related services to individuals/families seeking asylum status in the U.S.:

Asylum is a legal protection granted under US law, for a person who has been forced to flee their country of origin due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on: race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

For current information regarding legislative & proposed changes that impact asylum seekers:

 

Advocate

Join Legislative Advocacy Partners to receive updates on current action opportunities that are directed to current immigration/asylum issues.

 

Communicate

Receive email updates about the residents living at Casa Guadalupana, status of Casa Guadalupana’s goals & involvement of local Twin City parishes.

  • Contact Dave Haley by email to be added to the distribution list.

 

Donate

  • Monetary donations ensure ongoing house operations, resident living needs, food etc.
  • Casa Guadalupana is in need of an Accountant to provide ongoing professional volunteer services. To volunteer your services, email Dave Haley.

 

Participate

  • Meet residents and form friendships with one -on-one time, story sharing, provide rides to needed appts/work/shopping etc.
  • Ongoing needs for house/yard repairs and small projects.
  • Two community parishes currently offer meal prep & delivery programs to Casa Guadalupana residents. Consider being part of a Lumen Christi group to develop a similar plan.
  • Most Casa residents are either students and/or have jobs. Opportunities to mentor and coach residents in specific areas of study such as health care, engineering, environment.

 

 

Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals: DACA

“…Oh Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, and it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen” – Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

 

Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals: DACA

“The Dreamers” are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their families as children. Many have few, if any, memories of their home country. The average age of Dreamers upon arrival to the US is just six years old. As these children grow, they face deportation due to their undocumented status.

Out of compassion for their plight, and with recognition of the contributions that Dreamers make to our society and economy, the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program was created in 2012. DACA gives Dreamers permission to work/attend school and provides protection from deportation. However, it is not a path to permanent residence or citizenship. Dreamers must pass a background check and pay a $495 fee upon application and every two years.

In 2017, the DACA program was terminated and the Dreamers entered legal limbo. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the termination, on a technicality. President Biden has called to “preserve and fortify” DACA, and to allow Dreamers to apply for permanent residency immediately and for citizenship after three years. His immigration overhaul plan is controversial, however. The fate of the Dreamers is still very much up for grabs.

The DACA program is wholeheartedly supported by the Catholic Church. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following statement after the Supreme Court overturned DACA’s termination:

“First, to DACA youth, through today’s decision and beyond, we will continue to accompany you and your families. You are a vital part of our Church and our community of faith. We are with you. 

Next, we urge the President to strongly reconsider terminating DACA. Immigrant communities are really hurting now amidst COVID-19 and moving forward with this action needlessly places many families into further anxiety and chaos. In times of uncertainty, let us remember the teachings of the Gospel which encourage us to be open and receptive to those in need: ‘If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?’ (1 John 3:17).

In this moment, we must show compassion and mercy for the vulnerable. Lastly, we strongly encourage our U.S. Senators to immediately pass legislation that provides a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Permanent legislative protection that overcomes partisanship and puts the human dignity and future of Dreamers first is long overdue.”

 

Educate / Learn

 

Advocate

The Dreamers need you! Contact our Minnesota US Senators about passing the Dream and Promise Act through the US Senate, which will protect Dreamers by giving them a way to become permanent residents. Our Senators need to know that we, their constituency, support DACA. Call, write, email—just don’t stay silent:

Click here for more info: We Need the Dream and Promise Act Now!

 

Communicate

Sign up for “Action alerts” from the Immigrant Law Center of MN (ILCM) to stay informed about immigration issues and how you can make a difference.

 

Donate

Dreamers have to pay a $495 fee upon initial application, and every two years afterwards to renew their DACA status. Want to make a tangible difference to a Dreamer?   Donate their DACA Renewal Fees.

The Immigrant Law Center of MN has set up a way to donate toward the $495 filing fees for Dreamers renewing their DACA status (non-tax deductible donations):

  • Click  https://www.ilcm.org/donate/
  • Check the line  for “other one-time contribution” and fill in the total amount of your donation. Then click on “continue” at the bottom of the page.
  • On the next page, write in “DACA filing fee” in the acknowledgement box and include the total amount of your donation that you would like to direct toward filing fees.

 

Participate

Join “One Body,” ISAIAH’s committee of Catholics working toward justice for immigrants in Minnesota.