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Our January mission emphasis is the Immigration Care Team (ICT), a new ministry offering active support and provision to asylum seekers and other immigrants. In Spring 2020 there was a request to sponsor a young woman from a Central African country, who was seeking asylum while being held in a detention center at the Texas border. A group of individuals who had participated in Courts & Ports, a 2-day immersion experience witnessing first-hand the legal and law enforcement processes related to immigration, detention, and deportation occurring in South Texas, responded to this request with a yes. Karen Smith, Tom and Robbie Ausley, Sally Watkins, Gerry Carrol, Howard and Marijo Hartman, and Rev. Cathy Stone each signed a Letter of Support and Affidavit of Support agreeing to be her sponsors, providing support and supervision while she waits for her asylum case to be decided. She was released from detention three weeks later, and arrived that night in Austin to be met by three team members and a friend from her home country. Kathy Morales joined the team and meets with our young woman regularly for English as a Second Language classes and Deborah Wilder joined the team as an interpreter.

The ICT meets with her on Zoom every other week and is committed to assuring that she has a safe place to live, food, other necessities, access to legal representation and English instruction. There is an immigrant community here in Austin from the same home country. The team connected her with Justice for Our Neighbors and is grateful she now has legal representation. The ICT currently spends $824 each month on rent, utilities, and groceries. In addition, they have provided food from the food bank, trips to an African grocery store, clothing, a used computer, and gifts for Christmas. They all look forward to the day when they can meet in person rather than Zoom! But until then, the bi-weekly visits are filled with engaging conversations offering the opportunity to learn more about each other as they journey together.

Contributions to the Immigration Care Team will help cover living expenses and any legal costs that arise for our asylum-seeker while she goes through the asylum process. Prayers for the work of this team and for her are appreciated! Gifts can be made online or a check marked “Immigration Care Team” may be mailed to the church during January.