Adirondack Friends of Refugees & Immigrants

Who we are...

Formed in 2016 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, we are a group of committed people who are exploring the many ways we can support refugees and immigrants in New York's North Country and elsewhere.  

To this end, we seek to witness, educate, advocate and assist.

For more information, please visit our website:  Adirondack Friends of Refugees & Immigrants 

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Episcopalians gather in public witness outside immigrant detention center (July 8, 2018)

Deputies, bishops hold prayer of ‘vision, witness and justice’ 

By Lynette Wilson, Episcopal News Service (Taylor, Texas)
 

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached a sermon of “love God, love neighbor” to more than 1,000 people during a Prayer of Vision, Witness and Justice near the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, where 500 females are housed, in Taylor, Texas. Photo: Frank Logue

A thousand Episcopalians, at least two for every one female incarcerated at the Hutto Detention Center in rural Texas, stood under the blistering sun July 8 in public witness to the actions of the U.S. government in its enforcement of immigration policies that have separated families over the last couple of months and have led to roundups of migrants and deportations.

“We do not come in hatred, we do not come in bigotry, we do not come to put anybody down, we come to lift everybody up. We come in love, we come in love because we follow Jesus and Jesus taught us love,” said Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, in his sermon during the noontime Prayer of Vision, Witness and Justice held in sight of the Hutto Detention Facility here.

“Love the lord your god and love your neighbor,” Curry said, and his list of neighbors included liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, Independent, the neighbor one likes and the neighbor one doesn’t like, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Palestinian, Israeli, refugee, immigrant and prison guard. “Love your neighbor,” Curry shouted, to the crowd responding, “yes.”

“We come in love,” he said.

An ad hoc planning team lead by the Rev. Winnie Varghese, director of justice and reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street, and the Megan Castellan, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ithaca, New York, organized the prayer service in partnership with Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based nonprofit organization that works for a more just society by challenging the for-profit prison system, mass incarceration and deportation and criminalization of migrants.

 

Nineteen buses transported more than 1,000 Episcopalians from the Austin Convention Center to the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, a 40-minute drive from Austin. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The Episcopal Church’s 79th General Convention is underway in Austin through July 13. The U.S. immigration debate and the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy loomed large the previous day in a joint legislative committee hearing, where some 25 people testified on issues ranging from providing sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation, condemning the separation of migrant families, supporting Haitians who are poised to face deportation and calling for legislation to give permanent legal status to the dreamers through federal legislation known as the DREAM Act.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the president of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, tell the gathered crowd to turn toward the detention center. The Rev. Megan Castellan, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ithaca, New York, and one of the event organizers, shares the platform. Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The House of Bishops and the House of Deputies delayed by one hour the start of their July 8 legislative sessions so that the presiding officers and more than 1,000 Episcopalians transported by 19 buses could attend the prayer near the privately operated detention center, housing 500 females in rural Texas about 40 minutes’ drive from Austin.

Standing just outside the detention center’s chain-link fence, Taylor community members Jose Orta and Audrey Amos McGreenee held a sign to T. Don Hutton reading “End immigration detention in our nation of immigrants.” In 2006, the prison was converted from a medium-security prison to a family detention center, and then in 2009 to an all-women for-profit detention center, housing migrant women, some having been separated from their children, Orta said in an interview with Episcopal News Service.

Although there long have been issues with the broken U.S. immigration system, the announcement in April that the Trump administration would begin criminally prosecuting migrants and separating children from their parents while they undergo deportation hearings has called American citizens to advocate for family unification and reunification.

Taylor community members Jose Orta and Audrey Amos McGreenee held a sign to T. Don Hutton reading “End immigration detention in our nation of immigrants.” Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

In some cases, it has been a call to advocate for just policies at the national level. In other cases it has meant taking to the streets and bearing prayerful witness, as Episcopalians did outside Hutto.

“I think, frankly, what we’re doing, we’re expressing what most Americans feel. We are horrified by the current state of things. I think most of us cannot image how we can make it visible. I think we are afraid to talk our neighbors, we are afraid our friends disagree with us, we are afraid to cause insult. So when we started to do this, we thought we’d get 150, 200 people. We have more than 1,000 just on the buses,” said Varghese, who is also a deputy representing the Diocese of New York.

“Part of what we are seeing is our solidarity with each other and that there’s a great voice in opposition to what is happening in our country, and it’s us,” Varghese said. “It’s among us, and the reason to do things like this is to give people an opportunity to be their best selves.”

Jesus stood with vulnerable people, so the church stands with vulnerable people, said the Rev. Melanie Mullen, director of reconciliation, justice and creation care.

“We want to walk in the way of love and accompaniment with our most vulnerable sisters in suffering,” she said. “We are going to do this across the country wherever people are victimized … Jesus first said ‘suffer the little children unto me’; that’s our first call, to stand with the poor, the victimized, the most fragile. The presiding bishop told us to walk in the way of love, it gives us strength to come here and say we can face this together.”

Immigration in the United States, as in other countries, is disorganized, said El Salvador Bishop David Alvarado, in an interview with ENS following the prayer of witness.

El Salvador Bishop David Alvarado and the Rev. Tommy Dillion, an alternate from the Diocese of Louisiana and a longtime supporter of the Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador, hold up a sigh of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated for his social justice work while standing behind the altar. Romero is designated for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“To be a migrant,” he said, is treated like a crime. When in reality, migrants are fleeing violence, they are looking not only for opportunity but also for refuge and salvation. In Central America’s Northern Triangle Countries – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – people are fleeing social conflict.

“It’s affecting many people; there’s a lot of forced displacement,” said Alvarado, adding that between 60 and 70 people flee El Salvador daily, some of them staying in Guatemala and Mexico and others making their way to the U.S. border.


Episcopalians gathered between two baseball diamonds – the permitted gathering place – to hold a Prayer of Vision, Witness and Justice near the T. Don Hutto Detention Center. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

As the prayer was happening, an 11-member Salvadorian family was trying to cross the border and one of the family members was texting its status to Elmer Romero, a Salvadoran-born member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston and a board member of Cristosal, a human-rights organization providing assistance to Central Americans who have been forcibly displaced by violence. Cristosal began more than a decade ago as an Episcopal ministry.

During the Prayers of the People, Texas Assistant Bishop Hector Monterosso and Central New York Bishop De De Duncan-Probe, prayed for the termination of violence, poverty and displacement and for leaders to implement policies that both protect national security and that lead to safe migration, the end of detention for asylum seekers.

They prayed for children separated from parents and parents separated from children.

“Today is my son’s birthday, and if he had ever been taken from me, I don’t know what I would have done … just because I was trying to bring him somewhere where he could have liberty, where he could have a life,” said Sandra Montes, a music director from the Diocese of Texas who led music at the prayer and sang the day before at the July 7 revival.

“For me it’s very important that these women [know we are here],” Montes said. “I cannot even put into words, the desperation I would feel if I were in there and my child were somewhere else. Or even if he was with me just because we want something better, we’re looking for freedom.”

“We do not come in hatred, we do not come in bigotry, we do not come to put anybody down. We come to lift everybody up. We come in love,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told a crowd of more than 1,000 gathered in prayer at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. Photo: Frank Logue

In a Twitter post following the prayer service, Grassroots Leadership posted that the women in the prison were crying, just knowing they are not alone. Not leaving anyone alone is at the core of loving one’s neighbor and following Jesus’ teachings, Curry said.

“Jesus said ‘love God and love your neighbor.’ We come in love, that is the core of our faith, that is the heart of it,” said Curry.

“The way of love calls for us to be humanitarian, it calls for us to care for those who have no one to care for them, and we come because we don’t believe that a great nation like this one separates children from their families.

“We come because we believe that this nation, conceived in liberty, dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal, we believe that we must call this nation, America, back to its very soul. We are here because we love this nation. Because if you really love somebody you don’t leave ’em the way they are, you help them to become their best selves. We are here to save the soul of America.”

-Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service.  

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Cristosal Presents 'No Person is Illegal: Understanding the Central American Refugee Crisis' - (Register by July 8)

Seminar dates: September 8-15, 2018
Registration deadline: July 8, 2018
Cost: $995
Level 1 Seminar: Participants should have basic familiarity with El Salvador and/or human rights.

"Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?" - Elie Wiesel

In El Salvador, participants from North and Central America will examine the Central American refugee crisis, immigration policy throughout the Americas, and the international frameworks for protecting migrants. What social structures contribute to forced migration and displacement in El Salvador, especially for the most affected social groups? What are potential responses to this crisis? How can immigration policy be improved to uphold the rights of migrants and meet international human rights standards?

What to expect:

Use a human rights framework to understand the rights of migrants and refugees

Study how immigration policy in Central and North America impacts refugees in an increasingly connected world

Analyze the root causes of forced migration and internal displacement in Central America, with emphasis on specific populations in situations of vulnerability

Develop strategies to respond to the refugee crisis and support the rights of migrant populations

Learn more or submit your application:

globalschool@cristosal.org
cristosal.org/global-school

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AFS Seeks Vermont Hosts for International Exchange Students

Something extraordinary happens when you share your home and family with a high school student from another country.

That’s why 13,000 families worldwide host AFS students every year. You can help build bridges of intercultural understanding and enrich your own life in countless ways by opening your heart and home to an AFS exchange student.

ost families come in all shapes and sizes, and everyone is encouraged to apply! Host families provide a bed, meals, and the same guidance you would for your own child, and are supported by local AFS volunteers throughout the year. Students are here for the academic year (August-June), though they will become a part of your family and your lives for many years to come.

Currently we have students available from Japan, Chile, Spain, Austria and Costa Rica. Please contact me for more information on any of these students.

The world is transformed when people from different countries and cultures share their lives, learn together, and better understand one another. Help make the world a more just and peaceful place, one person at a time, by hosting an AFS student. Visit the AFS website at http://afsusa.org/host-family/ or contact Melanie Centeno; mcenteno@afsusa.org; (646)381-3346.

DOWNLOAD STUDENT BIOS

DOWNLOAD THE PROMOTIONAL FLIER

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Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) lives the call of welcome by supporting refugees, immigrants, and the communities that embrace them as they walk together in The Episcopal Church’s movement to create loving, liberating, and life-giving relationships rooted in compassion. EMM’s desire to honor the inherent value of human connection brings communities together to love their neighbors as themselves.

EMM acts in covenant with individuals and partners to ensure the equity of all voices as they work to serve, engage, and sustain the mission.

68.5 MILLION DISPLACED PEOPLE

25.4 MILLION are REFUGEES

12.7 MILLION are CHILDREN

 

 

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