As you know we have been working in two areas - supporting the local Border Patrol agents with a weekly meal and providing migrants backpacks for travel. The backpacks were given to individuals and families when they were being released from custody. We greeted them, gave them a backpack as well as toys for kids, diapers, and shoestrings for those who needed them. They would get on a bus to San Antonio and from there make other travel arrangements to get to family or friends in the US.
Things are in flux and changing frequently. Shortly after we began the backpack ministry the local Border Patrol station stopped releasing migrants in Uvalde. Uvalde is the sector hub for unaccompanied minors and the increased number of children in detention meant the facility did not have room for families. We do not know if or when family releases in Uvalde might resume.
We have a good relationship with the local agents. They have been good to work with and very appreciative and welcoming of what we have done so far.
We have also responded to the needs of the detained children by providing clothes, shoes, movies, toys, games. However, we were recently told that federal law prohibits the Border Patrol from accepting outside donations. Rep. Chip Roy has introduced a bill that would permit acceptance of donations.
Family releases are continuing in Eagle Pass and Del Rio. We are looking into how we might respond to the needs of families being released in those cities.
We are continuing to provide a weekly appreciation meal to local Border Patrol agents. This takes place on Tuesdays at the shift changes, early morning and mid-afternoon.
We are responding to the needs as best we can, but not the problem. The needs are overwhelming and heartbreaking. But we also need to advocate for the government to change laws and policies to provide dignified and just treatment to and care for the individuals and families. If you would like to write your elected officials you may find their names and contact information here.
We appreciate your continued support, donations, and offers to assist.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry - Who is my neighbor?
Information and Resources:
- Webinar: Listen & Learn: Border Advocacy and Ministry;
- Episcopal Migration Ministries’ Partners in Welcome ;
- Resources and statements compiled by Episcopal Migration Ministries;
- A resource page from the Office of Government Relations on migration, refugees, immigration: action items, partner organizations, donation suggestions, and education materials;
- A Joint Statement on the migrant situation from the Episcopal bishops in the state of Texas;
- Immigration ministries and opportunities in the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas;
- Ministry to the asylum seekers by the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande;
- Cruzando Fronteras, a border ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona; and
- Liturgical and educational resources from Forward Movement.