Franciscan Sister Leonette Kochan contributes this report from a Clergy Caucus on the topic of Asylum Seekers. The experience is still fresh in her memory.
Tucson Arizona—Representatives from Pima County Interfaith Clergy Caucus met on behalf of asylum seekers with U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva. With the crisis at the southern borders growing more critical each day, the topics of discussion included: addressing the future flow of asylees into Tucson, Yuma, and Nogales; the possibility of federal or local resource help for the faith groups and other NGO’s who are responding heroically in their ministry to asylum seekers; the possibility of non-partisan action on behalf of addressing the crisis. Sister Leonette Kochan, a participant in the Clergy Caucus gatherings, is pictured here with the representatives who met with Representative Grijalva, pictured in the center.
The Congressman shares the concerns of the group and is in support of humanitarian approaches to addressing the migrant/refugee situations at the borders. Besides representatives from the Catholic community, the Pima County Interfaith Clergy Caucus membership includes faith leaders from all faith traditions in the Tucson area.
Catholic Community Services, which coordinates the diocesan ministry to asylees at the former Benedictine Monastery in Tucson, reported that they have been informed by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) that they can expect over 200 – 300 people being brought to them each day into the unforeseeable future. Many other faith congregations also provide this same ministry to the extent that their space allows. Funding, food and supplies depend on the generosity of the local Tucson community, people who have been magnanimous in their response as volunteers and donors. All, including Rep. Grijalva, are gravely concerned because; while the flow of asylees appears to be on the increase, non-profit organizations cannot indefinitely sustain their current level of support without government help.