Welcoming the Sojourners in Our Midst: Our Growing Response

The reality of global migration and the various push factors are an ever-present reality for us. Our ministry and mission context are stewarding presence and relationships along 460 miles of the U.S. / Mexico border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that over the first quarter of 2019, a total of 98,876 apprehensions of family units, unaccompanied children, and single adults have occurred as reported by the Del Rio, Laredo, and Rio Grande sectors.

As a conference, the definition of the humanitarian response mandate and systems of support needed grows sharper each week as the flow of migration increases. Border ministries are cooperating with one another and with ministry response in San Antonio—the point of departure for migrants traveling to unite with family members in various parts of the country. They will stay with family and await their asylum petition court date.

How You Can Help: Each of the ministry areas described needs assistance of some sort. Find out how you can give to a particular humanitarian response ministry. Matthew 25:35

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El Valle District Response coordinates recruitment of volunteers for hospitality support, relief supplies, and presence at the Humanitarian Respite Center - McAllen, La Posada Providencia Refugee Center - San Benito, and Good Neighbor Settlement House – Brownsville. A forerunner in the migrant response, El Valle District has coordinated over 50 groups immersions to the South Texas / Mexico border over the past year. The ministerial response includes migrants on the border bridges, as well as hosting teams offering presence supporting refugees during their asylum court proceedings.

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Travis Park UMC: San Antonio offers shelter for migrants as needed in coordination with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition and the City of San Antonio Migrant Resource Center. Routinely, the Interfaith Welcome Coalition has coordinated hospitality responses with the detention centers in Karnes, Pearsall, and Dilley that bus migrants to San Antonio daily. The pattern has disrupted because of the influx of migrants at the border.

The increase has necessitated a broader coordinated effort with the City of San Antonio, Catholic Charities, Interfaith Welcome Coalition, Travis Park, and others.

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The Holding Institute: Laredo houses migrant families, upwards of 40 to 60 persons weekly, providing refuge and coordination of “next step” services. Recently, Holding was asked to attend an emergency meeting called by Customs and Border Protection [CBP]. CBP indicated that Laredo received secondary effects until now as they showed a 122% increase in apprehensions. At this time in 2018, 220,000 migrants crossed the border at Laredo and in 2019, 489,000 migrants have arrived. CBP projects 990,000 migrants arriving by the end of the year. Laredo reflects 38% of all crossings spread across the Southwest border with no particular signs of ebbing. Essentially, safety concerns force CBP to begin releasing refugees as soon as possible. CBP will release 188 refugees daily, including on weekends—not including releases from the port of entry.

What does this mean for Holding Institute?

READ: Laredo Migrant Shelter Filled to Capacity with Migrants

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Mission Border Hope: Eagle Pass has steadily responded to the increase of migrants arriving in Piedras Negras since November 2018, to those seeking asylum waiting for days to present themselves to Customs and Border Patrol [CPB] at the international bridge, and to those processed and released in Eagle Pass seeking passage to connect with family or sponsors within the United States. Mission Border Hope collaborates with Our Lady of Refuge, CBP, bus transportation, and other partners.

READ: As shelters overflow, asylum-seekers awaiting decisions left in freezing temps

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Val Verde County Border Humanitarian Coalition. First UMC, Principe de Paz UMC: Del Rio, and the Methodist Healthcare Ministries Wesley Nurse works with community partners and the City of Del Rio towards the formation of the coalition as a means of offering hospitality to migrants en route to San Antonio and other parts of the U.S. since the recent increase of migrants. Working with the City of Del Rio, the coalition has established a transitional shelter and the coordination of resources and support services for arriving migrants. The shelter in Del Rio is near full capacity because CPB transports migrants to Del Rio in order to alleviate processing overflows in McAllen.

WATCH: KSAT 12 ABC TV News Story - Del Rio housing large influx of migrants after closing port of entry

Written by Abel Vega

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