Spectrum News 1, DEC. 23, 2021, Ben Nandy

This story includes a 2-minute video. Many thanks to Ben Nandy. Read the whole story here.

“They wanted to kill me,” Ramona said in Spanish of the pro-government groups in her community, “for having participated … and supporting university students.”

Members of the Kingston Interfaith Council and their congregations raised funds to sponsor Ramona and José. The group met the couple at a non-governmental transitional facility near the border, and offered to help with their asylum applications to land them in Kingston.

The couple arrived in August. Volunteers with the Ulster Immigrant Defense Network have since been providing Ramona and José with food, clothing, rent and other necessities for their first year here.

Father Frank Alagna, founder of the UIDN and a member of the interfaith council, said he hopes the couple’s story changes attitudes among some less informed neighbors.

“This is what you do if you’re a human being and you’re a person of faith, and it doesn’t matter what faith you’re coming from,” he said during a Zoom interview Thursday. “I think the more people know and the more they’re made aware of reality, as opposed to what may be the slurs directed at immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, that more people will be welcoming.”

Ramona and José said they are anxious to begin careers.

Ramona plans to buy and trade her crafts.

José hopes to work in an auto repair shop or a restaurant.

They expect to be cleared next year by the federal government to legally work while their asylum applications are considered.