What is family immigration detention?
Over the past year, there has been a stark increase in the number of children and families fleeing their home countries in Central America to seek protection in the U.S. In response, the federal government quickly opened two new family detention facilities in Artesia, New Mexico and in Karnes County, Texas. A third facility is currently being constructed in Dilley, Texas and there is discussion around expanding the Berks family detention center, the only one in existence prior to the summer of 2014. There are 1,700 women and children held in detention. This truly is a social justice issue, and our church is joining with and will support other organizations to provide relief.
But as a holiday project, St. Andrews with other Texas congregations of all religious traditions are participating in a special initiative led by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services to write and distribute holiday cards to women and children held in family immigration detention facilities by Christmas, 2014. Although a daily reality for many, feelings of isolation and hopelessness are only intensified during the holiday season. While we enjoy abundant feasts and celebration, our neighbors in detention remain separated from the love of their family, the support of their friends, and the comfort of their traditions.
Give the gift of HOPE this holiday season:
The Social Justice Committee is asking all our members and visitors to write encouraging messages of hope on seasonal greeting cards in Spanish to bring light and joy to families in detention. Organize card-writing times with your family & kids, friends, Bible study groups, Circles, and Sunday School classes.
Download more background information about family immigration detention, as well as excellent instructions for making the cards (including messages in Spanish), by visiting the web-site below: http://texasinterfaithcenter.org/media/Documents/CardMaking_ToolKit.pdf
Time is short, so don’t delay. Deadline for mailing the cards is Tuesday, December 9th.
Send cards in one large envelope by December 9th to:
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Access to Justice
700 Light Street,
Baltimore, MD 21230
“You, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.”(Deuteronomy 10:19, NLT)
Volunteer for a Good Cause
The Workers Defense Project is a local organization that works to achieve Justice, Fairness and Safety for construction workers in Austin. They have made some remarkable progress in empowering low income workers in achieving fair employment. St. Andrews has had a working relationship with them for several years. For more information about them see their website: www.workersdefense.org
They have some very specific volunteer opportunities. We encourage you to look over the list and see if there’s an opportunity to help that matches your abilities, interests and schedule.
- GET OUT THE VOTE (Gotv) volunteers- Help with contacting candidates, phone banking, canvassing, preparing for screening city council and other candidates for their positions on the issues that matter most to WDP. (Sunday through Thursday in the evening.)
- Case intake volunteer (Must speak Spanish): (Tuesday night 6-9pm)
- Monitoring volunteer (2-5 hrs/wk):
- Revising documents received from contractors in order to ensure that standards are being met on Better Builder sites.
- Putting information from payrolls in a designated Excel spreadsheet for quick use by monitors.
- Organizing documentation, so that it is easily accessible by monitors.
- Special event volunteer (2-4 hrs/wk)
- Data entry (2-4 hrs/wk)
If you are interested contact Brigid Hall, WDP volunteer coordinator at email@example.com or 512-391-2305 x8303. The WDP office is located at 5604 Manor Rd in Austin.
Brigid will forward your information along to the appropriate staff person. Thanks for your help in making the world a better and safer place!
Social Justice for Immigrants
Almost 50,000 children are currently being held in disease-ridden, filthy facilities as prisoners. They are fleeing unbearable violence from drug cartels in their home countries. They do not need to be sent back to this violence, nor do they need to be treated as criminals. They are refugees. Sending them back to these countries should not be an option. Continuing to imprison them is a tragedy and a stain upon American integrity and honor. If you would like to sign a petition to ask our representative to stop this action click HERE!
You can notify Sheriff Greg Hamilton that you do not want our elected officials to support the dubious practice of ‘detaining’ immigrants based on requests from ICE.
1. Select “Sample Letter 1” and “Sample Letter 2”. Sample Letter #1 is better if you’re not a resident of Travis County. (Sample letters below)
2. Choose a letter with which you’re more comfortable, insert current date, and type your name on the bottom so that your signature will fit above.
3. Save your letter on your computer as a “word.doc”.
4. Print out the letter. Sign your signature.
5. Mail your letter to:
Sheriff Greg Hamilton
5555 Airport Blvd.
Austin, TX 78751
6. If possible, send a short email to all of the Travis County Commissioners, attaching the “word.doc”, stating that you don’t agree with ICE “detainers”, and have mailed the attached letter to Sheriff Hamilton. Email addresses of the Commissioners are listed below.
You certainly may change or hand-write the letter to suit your comfort. The important thing is that we send Sheriff Hamilton as many letters as possible. We hope to exert “pressure” on Sheriff Hamilton to stop cooperating with ICE “detainers”. Many other groups have also sent many letters. These include Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, Texas Civil Rights Project, Grassroots Leadership, Texas Civic Engagement Table, University Leadership Initiative, and many local religious organizations.
Also you might be interested in signing an online petition from Grassroots Leadership. They will be delivering this petition to City Council and County Commission in the coming weeks - http://grassrootsleadership.org/not1more-travis-county-sign-petition-get-s-comm-and-ice-out-austin-now
Any questions or concerns, email Ed Kopas - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overture Non-sexist Language
Allowing congregations to use non-sexist language in any or all aspects of the church’s life
A Few of Our Past Events
to Promote Social Justice:
Watch presentations by the following speakers:
Social Justice Speakers:
Speech by James Galbraith
Speech by Robert McChesney
Work for Social Justice at Home:
Buy Fair Trade Goods
When you buy Fair Trade goods, you help farmers and other local producers earn a fairer share of income. In the kitchen at St. Andrew’s, we serve only Fair Trade coffee from Texas Coffee Traders. But check many local suppliers to see their wide selection of gourmet coffees that are Fair Trade Certified.
Equal Exchange is one of these companies that works with small farmer cooperatives in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. In addition to offering their partners a fairer price, Equal Exchange helps them get credit, offers them technical support, and provides a trading partner they can trust.
Equal Exchange offers many Fair Trade items— check out their selection of teas, chocolates, cocoa, clothing, and other goods. All goods offered by Equal Exchange are traded fairly.
Social Justice in Action
With the Texas State Legislature in session, there’s a lot going on at the Capitol regarding Social Justice. Here are some local websites that provide action information and upcoming events:
- Equality Texas www.equalitytexas.org/
Workers’ Rights/Immigration Policy:
- Workers Defense Project: www.workersdefense.org
- Grassroots Leadership www.grassrootsleadership.org/
- Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance (RITA) www.reformimmigrationfortexas.org
Election Campaign Finance Reform:
Prison Reform & Capital Punishment Reform:
Healthcare Access/Medicaid Expansion:
- Center for Public Policy Priorities: www.forabettertexas.org
- Texas Impact: www.texasimpact.org
- The Arc of Texas: www.thearcoftexas.org (Rights of people with disabilities)
- Women’s Healthcare Coalition: www.texaswhc.org
- Planned Parenthood of Texas, Inc.: www.plannedparenthood.org/greater-texas
- Alliance for a Clean Texas: www.acttexas.org
- Texas Impact: www.texasimpact.org
- Climate Buddies www.climatebuddies.org