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Four ways to show compassion to asylum seekers

8.5. 2019 Written By: Linda Espenshade, Mennonite Central Committee

Photo: The Mexican side of the 20-foot tall pedestrian Mexico-U.S. border wall in Agua Prieta, Sonora, features artistic displays that emphasize love, brotherhood and sisterhood, and the hope of finding a better life. “Amor sin fronteras,” as one artist painted, translates to “Love without borders.” MCC photo/Laura Pauls-Thomas.

As the number of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border increases, and children and adults are being held in unsanitary conditions in overcrowded, temporary shelters, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) encourages people to pray and to seek ways to show compassion.

We believe that all people are made in the image of God and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. That’s true for migrants, no matter where they are on their journey ‒ away from home, returning home and anywhere in between.

Although nonprofits, including MCC, are not allowed to bring supplies or resources into holding facilities or detention centers, we can address needs of asylum seekers and other migrants.

1. Advocate

  • MCC is asking people of faith to urge their members of Congress to welcome those seeking asylum in the United States and to focus any federal spending related to asylum seekers on meeting humanitarian needs and addressing the root causes of migration rather than on detention, deterrence and enforcement.

2. Give

  • MCC continues to address the roots of poverty and violence that push Central American families to flee their home countries. By offering opportunities – from vocational and agricultural training to peacebuilding and education – MCC helps people become more secure where they are. If people must flee for the safety and well-being of their families, MCC supports its partners’ efforts to provide food, shelter, legal assistance and psychosocial support to them as they travel. Your gift to Central American migrants helps those who stay home and those who must leave.
  • Once people arrive, your gift of welcome helps MCC provide legal assistance in the United States and train those who work in nonprofit immigration organizations.
  • A gift to where needed most supports MCC’s work with displaced people and refugees all over the world.

3. Learn

  • Consider taking a learning tour of Honduras and Guatemala, scheduled for Nov. 5 to 16. See for yourself why so many women and children leave Central America and seek refuge in the United States.
  • MCC also sponsors tours of the U.S.-Mexico border. Watch for new migration-related events on our website.
  • In September, nonprofit staff who want to learn more about the complex U.S. immigration system can take MCC’s five-day intensive immigration law training.
  • Reflect on the stories of migration in the Bible, including the story of Abram in Genesis 12 and the book of Ruth.

4. Pray

  • Ask God to move the hearts of political leaders, immigration enforcement officials, military service members and judges in Central America, Mexico and the United States, and to treat migrants with respect and dignity.
  • Ask God to bring comfort, courage and wisdom to adults and children in detention and to the church leaders, nonprofit staff, volunteers and immigration attorneys who work tirelessly on their behalf.
  • Ask God to show you how to address this ongoing problem.

Linda Espenshade is Mennonite Central Committee U.S. news coordinator.

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