Iglesia del Pueblo: Reflection.

Season of Jubilee: Love Has No Borders. English translation.

I have been recovering with much gratitude to everyone for supporting me after my accident and covid. I’m finally on the mend!

During this time I have been studying a lot about the birth of the sanctuary movement for the next part of my series of interviews with undocumented farm workers for Farmers Footprint.

This movement began in the 1970s when refugees from the civil wars (funded by the US government) of Central America began to arrive at the border. During that time the refugees were supported and transported north by allies, 500 congregations were part of this movement and 8 people were arrested for helping the refugees.

In a wild turn of events in 2017 I ended up in a space of offering direct support for congregations that served as sanctuaries in Virginia.

Little has changed from 1970 to 2017 and until now, where the crisis on the border remains more about political games and not about a humanitarian crisis that deserves our empathetic support. It is almost 2023 and the problem of what to do with people arriving at the border still continues, many escaping violence and hunger (created in part by the United States meddling, warring and destabilizing) and not receiving any help, on the contrary, although Biden promised a radical change in how our people are received, we still hear that the concentration camps continue with their dirty and violent business. Indeed little has changed since the Trump era where he would let the border and its jails fill up before setting people free (well, not so free since people who come across the border and turn themselves in with immigration end up with ankle monitors or in home ISAP visitations and check-ins) to refill the prison again. Back then I worked with others to establish RITA in Richmond which is still going out of necessity (if you are in RVA I encourage you to offer them support) we greeted people at the bus station, helped interpret as well as provide food, hygenic products and clothes, when people give themselves up at the Border, ICE takes all their belongings sometimes even their documents, so people were sent out during the winter with nothing but the clothes on their backs. In April the racist Texas Governor Gregg Abbott started sending newly arrived refugees to NY and DC as they are a sanctuary state and city respectively. Now Arizona is doing the same thing. Here in DC since the spring and longer since, (as I mentioned, it has been a practice for many years to send immigrants by buses after having them imprisoned.) In my city there is a great and beautiful coalition was built of non-governmental agencies, mutual aid networks, leftist political parties, churches, businesses and individuals with networks to support with food, interpretation, medicine, clothes and more to the four thousand people (and counting) we have worked hard to serve the bus riders and thousands of people who have come to call DC home, or who come for a few moments, to receive a little food, some hygiene products and a smile from a good Samaritan on their journey.

For months volunteers have worked day and night and in one afternoon the mayor of DC destroyed the trust established by the community.

In a political move, a show of power, instead of putting more money into organizations and social services for new residents, the mayor of DC decided to call FEMA and the national guard, asking for 150 soldiers to help us, to provide direct support and playing the role of social workers, being the first thing that people who are usually escaping trauma and violence exerted by the military (historically with ties to the United States military.) She effectively washed her hands of the responsibility of the city to be a true sanctuary as promised. Instead, with the same xenophobia and imperialist fervor that militarize before giving concrete support, just like TX and AZ Governors’ our Mayor said, this is the federal government’s problem and fuck everyone. We continue in the fight, here is a letter to sign that demands the city of DC and the mayor to act correctly and humanely.

Reverend Leonina Arismendi Zarkovic is co-leader of Iglesia del Pueblo, a virtual faith space for action and reflection over on Kairos Center FB Live every sunday 7:30PM and Circle of Creatives Writer for Farmers Footprint.

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