Immigration and Refugee Response

We are constantly seeking ways to be faithful in our response to the immigration and refugees coming to our area! 

The Methodist Border Friendship Commission, is a ministry of the El Valle District UMC and the Rio Texas Conference of the UMC. The Commission has been serving since 1999.  Over the years, the Commission has formed strong relationships with the churches, pastors and variety of partnering agencies and ministries serving various ministries including immigrants and refugees in the border area of the Rio Texas Conference and the Eastern Conference of the Methodist Church of Mexico and beyond. 

The Commission has formed a working Committee of this group to be given the responsibility to use designated funds as needed and serve as our link to the United Methodist response to immigration and refugee programs and ministries of these areas.

You can give in your local church to the Methodist Border Friendship Commission using the GBGM National Advance Special #10759O.

You may also go to El Valle District Website and click the “Donate Now” button.

Ways to Help

Contact your US Senators and Representatives:

Although the president has signed an executive order rescinding the family separation policy, there is still great concern regarding the timing of the end of the practice, the fate of those children already separated from their families, and the fate of families who will now end up in detention together. Our JFON attorneys are telling us that families seeking to request asylum continue to encounter tremendous challenges, even when following legal processes for doing so. You can express your thoughts and concerns through the following links or by looking up your senators and congressional representatives online.


Contact El Valle District representatives regarding volunteering:

To see if volunteers are needed at La Posada Providencia in San Benito, 
contact Cindy Johnson / mc2dogs@sbcglobal.net.

To see if volunteers are needed at the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, 
contact Susan Hellums / shellums@mcfirst.com.

Be present for court proceedings: 

Being a witness in the courtroom is a powerful tool in the service of some of the most vulnerable people in our midst. Those few of us who have had the good fortune to be in the court have noticed how the presence of "outsiders" has an impact on the judge's behavior, encourages the public defenders to do a better job, and allows the community to serve as witnesses. 

If you would to join a roster of volunteers, please sign up here: http://signup.com/go/digyWSU

If you show up at the court without registering, you may not be allowed to enter for the proceedings.

Once registered, the court observer would need to be able to be present in the Brownsville Federal Magistrate's Court (2nd floor, Vela Federal Courthouse, 600 East Harrison, Brownsville) or in the McAllen Magistrate's Court 1701 U.S. 83 Business #1011, McAllen, TX 78501) by 10:00am or, for an afternoon shift, by 1:30pm). The observer would need to stay until the end of the proceedings. Court can run two hours or longer, but, typically, in Brownsville, they are over by noon. The most important part of the hearing is at the end, when the judge asks the immigrants if they might have anything to say--thus the need to try and stay until the end. 

Stay in touch with other United Methodists who are taking action:

See the Rio Texas Facebook page for individual submissions regarding public witness and other events.

Suggestions from UMCOR:

To provide support for those seeking asylum we offer the following solutions, which we invite you to share with others. 

1. Contact your elected government officials demanding immediate change through this tool offered by the General Board of Church and Society

Ways to Give

The greatest need at this moment is funding to support relief efforts on the ground. Please do not send items of any kind, as the storage and distribution of these becomes an additional burden to people already working very hard to serve those in need. Following are various ways you can give and what your donation will support.

Note for Rio Texas congregations:

Some of the causes below are approved as Conference Advance Specials, and donations to those projects from your church through the conference allow your congregation to receive credit toward the Five Star Award. Instead of donating directly to these projects, include your congregation's donation with your apportionment payment, designated with the Advance Special numbers found below.

El Valle District UMC maintains a working relationship with a variety of agencies serving immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley. Two of those agencies are listed below. District representatives use designated funds to pay for needed supplies and services and serve as our link to these programs:

  • The Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen receives persons who have been processed and released by the Border Patrol and who will travel to other parts of the country, awaiting legal action. The center provides showers, a hot meal, medications, and backpacks of snacks and other supplies for travelers' journeys. These are purchased on site, in order to provide correct quantities of correct items and to reduce the need for item storage. The El Valle District is strategically located to help regularly with these purchases.

  • La Posada Providencia shelter, outside San Benito, cares for refugees and asylum-seekers from all over the world. Again, El Valle District representatives help with the purchase of supplies, transportation to and from appointment and medications.

  • Good Neighbor Settlement House has recently opened a Respite Center caring for refugee/immigrants dropped off at the nearby bus station from the nearby detention centers.  Supplies are frequently purchased for their continuing needs.

Donate to the work of these ministries or to other immigration response efforts by sending checks to:

El Valle District, Rio Texas Conference UMC
c/o Susan Hellums
4200 North McColl
McAllen, TX 78504
Memo: Immigration and Refugee Response 
Rio Texas Conference Advance Special: #1428

Holding Institute in Laredo is a historic UM agency "building community and sustaining hope" along the border in Laredo, Texas. Holding is listed on the map of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as a member of their official relief network along the US-Mexico border. Holding currently receives asylum-seekers in precarious situations, such as pregnant women and mothers with infants. 

More information on Holding's work is available at: http://www.holding-institute.org/.

Needs at Holding include funds for medical visits and medications, phone calls, and travel by bus or air (bus tickets are rivaling the cost of airline tickets). Send donations to:

Holding Institute Community Center
1102 Santa Maria Ave.
Laredo, Texas 78040
Rio Texas Conference Advance Special: #1622

Justice For Our Neighbors in Austin and San Antonio are providing legal assistance to refugees and immigrants. JFON’s services are focused on family-based and humanitarian immigration law. JFON is working to accomplish the reunification of parents and children who were separated under the zero tolerance policy.

Costs of providing legal representation include mileage for multiple trips to and from both detention centers and immigration court; preparation, copying, and mailing of extensive paperwork; and required continuing education, legal resources, and salaries for attorneys and staff.

Donate to Austin Region JFON: 
Rio Texas Advance Special: #1130

Donate to San Antonio Region JFON:
Rio Texas Advance Special: #1625

United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) provides funding to conferences and partner agencies working with immigrants and refugees across the globe. Donate at https://www.umcor.org/.
Rio Texas Advance Special: #999895 US Disaster Response

Church World Service works with UMCOR and the Rio Texas Conference to provide blankets to immigrants for their use during travel. Information on other services for immigrants and refugees, as well as a donation link, are available at their website.
Rio Texas Advance Special: #982810 CWS Blankets and Tools


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The purpose of this website is to share around the humanitarian immigration crisis, to share what our people and their partners are doing and learning, what their needs are in their ministry, and how others can help. As the situation on our border changes, often daily, this webpage will change as well. We hope to add resources for people who want to talk and pray about immigration from the perspective of scripture or the Social Principles of our denomination.

In the meantime, thank you for coming to look. You may not agree with every approach or action you read here, but hopefully you will find something that sparks your interest or leads you into prayer or action. Please be in prayer for all people around the world who feel compelled to sojourn to lands not their own. And pray for wisdom, compassion, and courage for those who serve them.