Praying that you and those you love remain safe through the vagaries of COVID-19 and the variants that continue to plague us. I ask that you celebrate with me that throughout these months of 2021 there have been some good developments in government responses to the plight of asylum seekers.
The bad news is that there is so much reporting on persons who enter our country illegally. Too often we get inquiries about the legitimacy of the work we do. For the 30+ years of our ministry here, Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries has worked WITH (not against) the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement team (ICE). Quite often it is ICE officials who contact us, seeking our assistance in providing for asylum seekers who have demonstrated “credible fear” in a way that ICE allows them to schedule a hearing. The hearing may be months, or more than a year, from the time ICE allows the asylum seeker to pursue that path. The “provision” we offer can take many forms, including getting a person to the home of a sponsor or family member to await the hearing. If no sponsor or family member is available, our provision for that person can include temporary housing, food, education for the children, and both medical and legal advocacy. I offer here two cases of persons who have given us permission to tell their story to illustrate this partnership with ICE.
Carlos’ story is quite a shocking one. He went through dozens of countries from South America to central America to get to freedom. He crossed the Darien Gap, considered to be one of the most dangerous jungles, in order to get to freedom from the communist system that has tormented Cuba for more than half a century. He was processed in El Paso and was sent to a detention center in Louisiana for 4 months. U.S. officials acknowledged that “credible fear” asylum was warranted for Carlos, allowing him to stay in the U.S. He has now been relocated to Florida, where he is building a new life with friends and family.
The two lovely Venezuelan ladies pictured here traveled more than 3 thousand miles, escaping the terrible crisis in their country under dictator Nicolas Maduro. They were two of only a very few asylum seekers who arrived without experiencing the violence endured by so many along the journey to our border. They were joyful and praising Jesus for their arrival to our facilities, and now have led the way for their families to follow them at ages 21 and 23.
Many of you know of the working relationship that we have with ICE. If our ministries were operating outside of the law, we certainly could not have carried on successfully for these decades! We ask that you seize any opportunity to help educate those whose impressions are shaped by news features that do not represent what we do here. Illegal activity does certainly go on at our borders, but SWGSM has never been a part of that. Thank you for any help you can provide as we get that message out. We continue, by the grace of God and with the generosity of your donations and prayers, to follow the example of Jesus in ministering to our brothers and sisters seeking asylum.
Though this Season has been one of extraordinary challenge and need, we remain grateful for God’s steadfast provision and to you for an unwavering commitment in the face of record migratory clamor. Friends, keep the Good Samaritan in your prayer. May the Spirit of kindness and Thanksgiving fill every home is our wish of best regards.
Your brother in Christ,
F. Feliberto Pereira, Director