Testimony from an Immigration Clinic

Testimony from an Immigration Clinic

Immigration Task Force


Our co-chair, Rev. Rafeal García, volunteers at a weekly immigration clinic assisting immigrants filling out their immigration, refugee, and asylum paperwork.  The following is his witness of immigration ministry:

I have been attending the Tuesday clinics at the New Sanctuary Coalition lately. This mission is in partnership with the Immigrants’ Rights Project at New York University School of Law. When one arrives, there are many volunteers of all ages and walks of life with different roles: translators, computer savvies, group leaders, attorneys, and, a string of many others offering services such as housing, healthcare, labor complains, referrals, etc. All these groups of volunteers serve a community of immigrants, who are called friends, to apply for political asylum or avoid deportation. Those of us who volunteer become part of a team of three or four persons. Each team is assigned to help one of these friends, and each case usually takes around four to five weeks.

My first time there, I had the impression there were too many volunteers and I was not going to be needed. A few minutes later my feelings proved wrong; every single volunteer had been assigned to a case. No one was idle. In my first case that started late last July, I am part of a group that is working with a friend from Guatemala, whose story mirrors the agony and injustice many of our friends experience from the very beginning of their journey until they crossed the border and are detained and jailed. ICE has become their worst enemy, and the fight to stay here in the United States for many of friends is the difference between staying alive or being returned to their countries of origin to die. For this reason, it is important that we start having a conversation about becoming a sanctuary church with our congregations. There are many vulnerable families, women, men, and children who are being victimized for the mere fact that they are poor, and are seeking to live with dignity and in freedom. Church sanctuaries are one of the few places these friends might have where they can feel safe, and we Christians should make our best effort to make sure our sanctuary doors are open and our spirits welcoming.

To volunteer at an immigration clinic, contact the New Sanctuary Coalition, Justice for our Neighbors NYAC, or your local immigration rights groups to find out more information about a clinic near you.