Unaccompanied Immigrant Children May Be Headed Our Way. Can You Help?


Kelly Gallagher

7/21/2014

8/6/14 Important update:

Greetings all,
We heard last evening that the Federal government is no longer seeking temporary shelter for the Unaccompanied Children crossing the borders. The number of refugees has dropped and immigration services have been able to release an increasing number of children to appropriate sponsors as their cases proceed.

I want to encourage all of us to continue our work on this issue.  No doubt having the eyes of the nation on them has helped to facilitate the processing of these children. Let us not now turn a blind eye to what has been an issue on our border for years.

Can our resources be used now to support our churches who have been caring for these refugees for years? Can our presence be heard in immigration reform and refugee advocacy? Can we aid in educating others who at this moment have interest in a vital issue?  We hit this moment in history once – we most certainly will again.  They are still children – and there are so many more.
 
Original post from 7/21/2014

"Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." ~ Matthew 19:14

Peace and greetings on behalf of the Justice and Witness Ministry Council. As the summer moves along, many of you have been in touch with us to ask about a Conference-wide response to the Governor's invitation to the unaccompanied children entering Massachusetts. What a blessing to have so many leaping to help - we are indeed a Conference that cares!

As of this morning, our name is on the list at the Governor's office to be contacted when volunteers are needed and when other needs are identified. I will also be in touch with organizations like Church World Service and the local Red Cross, who may be on the front lines and know needs sooner.

If you or your church are interested in being on a contact list please let us know here. Or you may email Karen Methot at methotk@macucc.org. We will also put announcements in the E-Mailing and in Everflowing Streams. If you have interest in being a part of a Response Task Team, please let Karen or me know. (Update, July 25: Thank you to everyone who volunteered for the task team - no more task team members are needed.)

The decision to invite so many children to be housed at our reserve bases will inevitably result in varying and opposing opinions. I invite us all to remain faithful in our dialogue, respecting one another's convictions and concerns, honoring one another's right to reflect and respond. May this occasion highlight our Christian love for one another and for the children. Let us remember these are our children, because they are God's children.  I leave you with words from Governor Patrick's announcement on Saturday:
 
"I have come down where I have for two main reasons, love of country and lessons of faith.  We are a great nation. Unlike any other superpower, America's power, to paraphrase a great man, comes from giving, not from taking.  America, and this Commonwealth in particular, has given sanctuary to desperate children for centuries. We have rescued Irish children from famine, Russian and Ukrainian children from religious persecution, Cambodian children from genocide, Haitian children from earthquakes, Sudanese children from civil war, and New Orleans children from Hurricane Katrina. Once, in 1939, we turned our backs on Jewish children fleeing the Nazis, and it remains a blight on our national reputation. The point is that this good nation is great when we open our doors and our hearts to needy children, and diminished when we don't.
 
"The other reason I have offered our help is more personal, less about patriotism and more about faith. I believe that we will one day have to answer for our actions -and our inactions. My faith teaches that "if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him," but rather "love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Lev. 19:33-34). We are admonished to take in the stranger, for "inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these," Christ tells us, "you did it to me." (Matthew 25:43,45). Every major faith tradition on earth charges its followers to treat others as we ourselves wish to be treated." 

May God's grace and Christ's love abound in our lives this day and all days,

Kelly Gallagher
ACM for Justice & Witness Ministries  



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