by Rachel Lyons
Sunday, June 4, 2017
The news is filled with articles and images about immigration and refugee resettlement. Much of it is heartbreaking and confusing. No matter our political persuasion, we know that large groups of people, including children and other vulnerable groups, are hurting, anxious, and displaced because of war, economic hardship, religious intolerance, terrorism, and famine.
Hospitality in all its forms is a foundational value of the Old St. Pat’s community. We are a community that welcomes the stranger and raises its collective voice to encourage others to do the same. In the face of such an overwhelming worldwide need, what can one church or one person do to alleviate such anxiety and suffering?
One place to start is awareness and education. A group at Old St. Pat’s, coordinated by Rachel Lyons, started meeting to learn more about the issues of immigration and refugee support, network with other local agencies, and plan actions for all to participate in. This ongoing monthly column will provide information about who immigrants and refugees are, specifics about their needs and contributions, and an overview of local and national programs that are supporting these groups.
Let’s begin with basic definitions of the terms immigrant and refugee. The two terms are not interchangeable. Immigrants are persons who choose to resettle in another country, including people leaving situations of dire poverty or joining relatives in another country to improve their quality of life. The United States has a process for immigrants to seek legal residency and eventually citizenship, though people may have an undocumented immigrant status for various reasons. Refugees are persons forced to flee from their home country due to armed conflict and/or loss of freedom due to persecution. They must be able to prove their claim. Subsequent columns will discuss in greater detail the differences of these two groups and their unique needs.
OSP partner organizations are working to pass amendments to the Welcoming City Ordinance to ensure safety for all our neighbors. Do you live in Ward 24 (Scott, Jr), 26 (Maldonado), 27 (Burnett, Jr), 30 (Reboyras), 31 (Santiago), 42 (Reilly), or 44 (Tunney)? Contact Rachel today for how you can raise your voice and protect the dignity of all the neighbors in our city – firstname.lastname@example.org.