As the General Assembly declared in 2022, the PC(USA) is a sanctuary and accompaniment church that supports and encourages its members in welcoming and walking with immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. PDA Migration Accompaniment Ministries has updated some of its resources for congregations and individuals seeking to live out the call to asylum accompaniment.
Resources for Understanding the Current Asylum Situation
Migration and the U.S.-Mexico border are hot button issues for politicians and the media. Immigration policies change frequently, and the procedures for migration are often intentionally convoluted and cruel. For an overview of the situation in January of 2024, please refer to our Current state of Migration to the U.S.– Mexico Border and Asylum Law document. We have also posted a glossary of immigration terms to help clarify this complex topic.
It is challenging to welcome asylum seekers, but it can also be deeply rewarding. At First Spanish Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, dozens of newly arrived families have become part of the church’s community. Read more in this article from the Presbyterian News Service.
Resources for Receiving Asylum Seekers
If your congregation would like to deepen its asylum work, one avenue is to sponsor and host an asylum seeker or a family. This work requires a deep commitment and discernment, in which you build a meaningful relationship with someone while you walk with them during their first year in the United States. PDA’s updated Congregational Accompaniment Toolkit provides a detailed overview of the types of support services asylum seekers need as they navigate their new home and the many resources available to inform you and assist you in your accompaniment.
Over the past couple of years, large cities in the interior, like New York, Chicago, Denver, and Washington D.C., have received asylum seekers in greater numbers than ever before. Some have come on buses from the border, while others have come on their own, hoping to find better opportunities for shelter and work. The UN High Commissions on refugees has published Asylum Seeker Reception toolkits for the border and the interior, to support communities adapting to the work of welcome or who are planning for the possibility of receiving migrants in the future. For further resources, check out Church World Service’s Asylum and Border Resources page. It compiles recorded trainings and onward movement packets that asylum seekers receive when they leave border shelters.
If you need financial support for your asylum accompaniment ministry, or if you have a local partner that is engaged in this work and needs financial assistance, PDA can help. We give migration accompaniment grants through mid–councils to both faith-based and secular partners. The next deadline is Monday, February 12, 2024. For more information and an application, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Ways to Embrace Accompaniment
Not everyone has the time or capacity to accompany a family or engage in widespread reception work, and that is OK. God has given all of us different gifts. It is better to not make a commitment you are not sure you can keep than to make a commitment and leave someone vulnerable in a new country. Here are some other ways to embrace the call to asylum accompaniment.
- Advocate for just asylum policies that affirm the dignity, humanity, and autonomy of asylum seekers. Currently, there is a lot of anti-asylum sentiment in all levels of government: representatives need to hear from constituents who support asylum because of their moral and religious beliefs. Right now, senators are negotiating policies that could gut asylum seekers’ rights and send them back to places where they will be in danger. This action alert from the Office of Public Witness has more information and a form to contact your representatives in Congress and tell them that you oppose limits to asylum.
- Financial gifts support the accompaniment ministries of partners around the United States. A designated gift to U.S. refugee emergencies (DR000095) will support the work of our partners who provide food and healthcare for unhoused migrants, support asylum seekers in detention, and make newcomers feel at home. You can donate using this link.