The escalating number of unaccompanied children crossing the border and entering the U.S is a very complex issue.
- Q&A: Children at the Border | NY Times Article
- What’s Causing the Latest Immigration Crisis? | NPR Article
Thousands of children, preschool-age and older, have been fleeing poverty, violence, and seeking family in the US and the situation is escalating. Reportedly, more than 52,000 children have crossed the border just since October. Due to the overwhelming number of kids and the unique realities and vulnerabilities that they face, many in the faith and political communities are seeking to find answers for how to meet both short-term and long-term solutions to this migration. Some children are being transported to vacant military housing barracks on bases around the country because of space issues, and there is a potential that some of these children will be transported to the Seattle area in the near future.
Right now, even though much may be unclear, I would like to invite the church community to become aware of some of the complexities related to this crisis and to start praying for this reality. Pray for these children and their families, for those subject to violence or trafficking, for the fear and uncertainty and desperation that were the push factors in so many countries from where children were sent. Pray for discernment for those in our government, for organizations, ministries, and church communities who are in close proximity to the border and are already doing the difficult work of addressing the physical, emotional, legal, and spiritual needs of the children. And pray for wisdom and strength for those of us in the Seattle area as we prepare for the potential of these children being moved to our community and consider how we may be called to engage and love these global neighbors migrating to our own ‘hood.
If and when children are relocated to the Seattle area, there are many partners, immigration experts, and advocates from within the immigrant community themselves – including other ECC churches and community leaders – who we can learn from as we consider how we may be able to help. Many of us at Quest are already working to learn more, network, and prepare ideas for how we as a church body might be able to come alongside the immigrant community and be a partner in supporting this issue. We will share updates as leadership and ideas form if there will be a church-wider response to invite you to consider. But for now, I would suggest engaging in this issue in the following ways:
- Pray – for the children and their families, for the government/organizations/ministries already involved, for the legal and immigration realities that shape this
- Learn more – read some articles, talk with friends, listen to organizations and subject matter experts already part of the immigration legal system or living this reality
- Prepare – ask God for wisdom and clarity about potential future engagement
Needs that have been shared already from friends within the immigration reform community that we may consider engaging further include the following:
- Collecting donations for material needs for children after they are moved
Recruiting volunteer shelters to house and care for children (working with DHS or other orgs)
- Volunteering to visit and monitor detention conditions
- Engaging in pastoral visitation
- Advocating to not weaken human trafficking laws (because of the connection between this situation and human trafficking related provisions about giving central American children individual hearings)
- Strengthening overall immigration reform – through awareness building, education, and using our voices for advocacy
Engage NOW with these partner organizations of Quest Church. Learn about the stories of people engaged in this crisis and use your voice to speak into the political process. We don’t need to wait to prophetically speak up.
- World Relief | Call or email your representatives to make sure that the children are cared for and that refugee programs and welcoming communities are not left underfunded as a result. Click link for easy script.
- Bread for the World | Specific ways to contact Congress
- KIND (Kids in Need of Defense) | Ways to get involved and volunteer with some of these children.
Continue to learn more about this complex issue:
- Watch the 40 minute video The Stranger
- Check out Seattle’s local advocacy efforts for children through partner Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
- Read the ECC denomination’s Resolution on Immigration for a biblical basis and conversation calling the church to engage in immigration advocacy
- See what local kids are doing to help
Thank you in advance for your concern, your compassion, your advocacy, your willingness to learn and listen, and your discipleship as part of the body of Christ. So grateful to be the church with you.