Dear Church,
New Life. This is the promise asylum seekers cling to as they first navigate foreign terrain and later foreign languages, laws, and systems of power on the journey to legal status in the United States. “No one leaves home/unless home is the mouth of a shark,” writes British Somali poet Warsan Shire in the opening line of her poem “Home.” Her words describe the stark reality— the risk of death that asylum seekers take just for the slim chance at new life, a risk outweighed only by the risk of staying home.
Still, in the U.S. the burden of proof lies with asylum seekers to demonstrate evidence of that threat. Without legal representation, only 1 in 10 will get the protection they seek. Those with legal counsel are three times more likely to win the right to remain in the US, while thousands of credible asylum seekers are returned to their home countries every year.
New Life. This is also the Easter promise, the gift at the very heart of God’s work of redeeming love in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
This year, we cling to that promise with anxiety and hope as this faith community walks beside an asylum seeker, who is also in the legal care of our partners at Austin Region Justice for Our Neighbors (ARJFON). ARJFON welcomes refugees and immigrants by providing free, high-quality legal services, education, and advocacy. They focus on asylum and unaccompanied minor cases, some of the most critical and complicated in immigration law.
Last year, ARJFON represented 160 clients and their families in their pursuit of justice and did this with only one staff attorney. ARJFON’s goal is to hire a second attorney as soon as possible.
Our Easter Offering could help finally achieve that goal. With additional gifts totaling $20,000, ARJFON will be able to double the legal team and multiply the organization’s impact by helping more vulnerable immigrants, like the asylum seeker in our community, find a permanent home in the US and, with that, a safe, stable future. Our city and this community of faith are made richer by those that ARJFON serves. At Easter, we come face to face with the risen Christ. Let us meet that outpouring of love with this act of generosity so that others may also find new life.
Your gifts, marked “Easter Offering,” may be brought to worship, mailed or brought to the church office, or made online by selecting “Easter & Christmas” from the drop-down menu on the linked giving webpage.
With Easter Hope,
Pastor Taylor