Advent I, 2018
To our Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
“Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt…” Matthew 3:14
At Christmas, we encounter the story of a family in migration from persecution. Joseph acts at the behest of an angel, is motivated by love, and saves his family by journeying across a desert to Egypt.
We hear echoes of that flight to Egypt in our own day. We might wonder if Joseph, Mary and Jesus travelled with others in a caravan; we might wonder if guardian angels today are warning fathers and mothers to flee for the safety of their children.
As we enter Advent and prepare to hear the story of the holy family, we desire to draw your attention, prayers, and actions to helping some ordinary families in our own diocese.
Cruzando Fronteras, under the direction of Deacon Rodger Babnew, has garnered the trust of the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP), and in collaboration with them, has begun the work of establishing asylum claims for migrants as they arrive. They are in high gear working on both sides of the border in Nogales providing shelter and support. This includes assisting members of the LGBTQ community, who are vulnerable not just in their countries of origin, but in Mexico as well.
Deacon Babnew notes that a few weeks ago, the shelter system operated by Cruzando Fronteras was seeing 3-5 families per week seeking asylum claims. Today they are trying to process 18-22 claims per day. But this is a small part of the problem. A much greater part of this crisis is the number of people waiting on the border to have their claims processed. They have come long distances from tropical climates and are in need of warm winter clothing and medical care. Providing this aid costs Cruzando Fronteras about $6,000 per month, and we anticipate those costs may rise as more migrants arrive.
Bishop Smith has provided an emergency grant to Cruzando Fronteras to assist with this greater administrative burden, and we are working with some of Bishop-Elect Reddall’s New York contacts to solicit more support and funding, but we encourage your generosity in this season to support this ministry on the border of our Diocese. You can do so through our secure, online Faithstreet account:http://bit.ly/AZCruzando.
Christian action is best accompanied by prayer and study. Forward Movement has produced a pamphlet in both English and Spanish called “No Longer Strangers: Exploring Immigration Issues” which can be downloaded for free here: http://www.venadelante.org/NoStrangers/.
Your Bishop and your Bishop-Elect stand united behind the divine command to welcome the stranger, and to respect the dignity of every human being. We are called to protect the vulnerable, and also to pursue both the establishment of just immigration laws, and the faithful execution of those laws. We believe that migrant families should stay together; that legal asylum claims must be honored and investigated; and that all immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, must be treated as our brothers and sisters.
Please join us in this holy season with your prayers, action and support.
Bishop Kirk S. Smith
Bishop-Elect Jennifer Reddall
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