Monday, April 13, 2015

Immigration and Refugee Children Crossing the Border: A Growing Quaker Concern

Immigration, and the plight of refugee children crossing the border, have become a growing concern among Friends of Pacific Yearly Meeting. The Latin American Concerns Committee of PYM has appointed a special subcommittee devoted to this concern; and the Casa de los Amigos in Mexico City is deeply involved in immigration and migrant issues. Five Meetings—Santa Barbara, Inland Valley, Humboldt and  Redwood Forest, and Sacramento-- have approved minutes of concern regarding the plight of refugee children crossing the border; and Orange Grove Meeting is currently considering one.  There will be an interest group on this topic at Yearly Meeting session this summer. 

You are invited to a conference call sponsored by the SCQM and PYM Peace and Social Order. Anyone  interested in peace and justice concerns is welcome to take part.
Thursday, April 23, at 7:30 pm.
Call (805) 360-1000 and then enter the number 355219#
Please let me know if you have concerns or agenda items.

One of the concerns on our call will be how to address immigration issues, particularly the plight of refugee children and family who are fleeing the violence in Central America and Mexico. If you have other concerns, you will have a chance to raise them as well.

As Friends, we believe there is “that of God” in every individual—whether born in the United States or elsewhere—and therefore support the efforts of the AFSC and FCNL to promote humane and fair immigration reform. In order to be effective advocates for immigrants among us, we encourage Friends to study the material provided by the AFSC: and also
We are especially moved by the plight of mothers and children crossing our borders to escape from violence in their home countries and encourage Friends to support local, state and national efforts to insure they are treated humanely.

"The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God. " –Leviticus 19:34

Here are the minutes approved by SCQM Friends and also the Sacramento Meeting minute, which has not yet been posted.

Santa Barbara Friends Meeting
Minute on Child Refugees and Migration
January 11, 2015

In gratitude to Friends at Inland Valley, Redwood Forest, and Humboldt Meetings for their faithful inspiration in similar minutes

As you are well aware, the humanitarian crisis on our southern border has burgeoned with tens of thousands of young people, children, and mothers arriving due to the violence and extreme poverty in their home countries. Imagine your children or grandchildren being subject to such violence that you would take the chance to send them traveling a treacherous route alone with only a 50-50 chance of making it to safety.  Imagine not only the desperation but also the perseverance, judgment, and strength of each of these young people.

We call on our government, with this minute, to declare these young people and families refugees, allowing for their access to resources and protection under the law. As a nation, we can provide shelter, care and education as well as legal assistance to help them navigate the immigration system. We can also encourage the Mexican government to provide similar compassionate treatment for these young people, and we can support nonprofit organizations in Mexico who are trying to help these children and families. We can encourage and support non-violent efforts in their countries of origin to alleviate the conditions that cause so many to flee. We must consider how our governmental policies influence violence and poverty in other countries.

Santa Barbara Friends Meeting encourages all acts of compassion and kindness directed toward these refugees who have left their home countries under conditions of fear and intimidation and have entered the United States in the hopes that by crossing our borders they may find peace and safety. We oppose their prolonged incarceration in detention facilities or deportation back to their countries of origin where their lives are in danger. We call for an end to the practice of for-profit detention of these families. We join hands with all those who are working to provide these refugees with food, shelter, medical care, due process in their immigration proceedings, and hope for a better life.
Inland Valley Friends Meeting -
Minute on Central American Humanitarian Crisis

    Message from: Sue Scott, Inland Valley Friends Meeting, Clerk  

    Subject:  Minute on Central American Humanitarian Crisis.
Dear Friends,
Inland Valley Friends passed this minute.  We would like to share it with you.  Please consider if this speaks to you and/or your Meeting and move forward as led.  Here in the Inland Empire, you may have heard of the confrontation in Murietta a week or so ago.  The nonprofits as well as the Catholic church are working towards helping.

In the Light, Sue Scott, Clerk IVMM

Minute on Central American Humanitarian Crisis - July 13, 2014 - #1/7/14
Inland Valley Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) believes that the current crisis facing our southern borders, is a humanitarian issue, not an immigration issue. Central American children, arriving with their mothers or alone, are fleeing from violence and poverty so extreme that they are desperate to escape. They request asylum upon entering the United States. The numbers have reached more than 65,000 overwhelming the Border Patrol (BP) and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) as well as immigration workers. ICE has asked religious and nonprofit immigration groups for help.

Here in the Inland Empire, support for the Catholic diocese and immigration groups, such as Justice for Immigration Coalition, will go toward providing safe places for the mothers and children to stay, once they are released from ICE, until they can join their families already in the United State. Funds are also need to provide food, clothing, and transportation. Other needs include translation and local transportation services.  We invite Friends in the wider Quaker fellowship to join in local groups helping in this crisis, educating others, and participating in letter writing campaigns for immigration reform.

We call on our government, with this minute, to declare these mothers and children refugees allowing for their access to resources and protection under the law. We pray that the executive and legislative branches of our government will finally work together towards a comprehensive immigration reform program that will adequately address the unique issues associated with these refugees response to the violence they experience at home, including, but not limited to, increasing the number of judges to handle the current crisis and to evaluate how our governmental policies affect the issues of violence and poverty in other countries.    

We send this Minute to the wider Quaker Fellowship, and our government leaders.

Approved at Meeting for Worship on the Occasion of Business - July 13, 2014
The minute I mention from Sacramento was actually passed by the Peace committee, and is, as I mentioned, a minute for action as follows: 
The Child Refugees and Migration Subcommittee of the Latin American Concerns Committee of Pacific Yearly Meeting wrote and distributed a formal Leading of the Spirit in Support of Unaccompanied Alien Children at the gathering in July 2014. The final paragraph of the leading includes the following statement: “We encourage make economic or in- kind donations to organizations that provide support to these children and the families that provide care for them.” Our Peace and Social Concerns Committee has labored for the past several months to find a way to implement the Leading and believes that a way forward has been identified. It is to pay for the legal fees of one or more children who are seeking asylum in the greater Bay Area. We have found an organization that we trust, the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, an established refugee organization in Berkeley that is supported by Friends Meetings in the Bay Area, which provides these specific legal services for Unaccompanied Child Refugees to seek to remain in the United States. 
The Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Sacramento Meeting approved the following minute in support of this work.
March 2, 2015

Peace and Social Concerns proposes that contributions be made to East Bay Sanctuary Covenant (EBSC) to cover the legal fees ($1,420 each) for one or more Unaccompanied Undocumented Child or Children (UAC) served by EBSC. This idea flows from the document “Leading of the Spirit in Support of Child Refugees from the Child Refugees and Migration Subcommittee of the Latin American Concerns Committee of PYM.“ We are asking Sacramento Friends Meeting for financial support to East Bay Sanctuary Covenant. This request will also be sent to Finance Committee for seasoning of this minute.

1 comment:

  1. Very encouraged to see this happening! Thanks, Friends. Will try to join the call, if only to cheer from the other coast.