Mario fled Guatemala two years ago seeking asylum. Last year, when his wife and daughter tried to join him, they were sent first to a detention facility in Texas and then to one in Louisiana. UIDN worked with their Texas-based attorney to have their petition for asylum transferred to New York, where we will see to it that they have appropriate legal representation.
UIDN provided the requisite sponsor and was ready to provide bond for their release. We purchased airlines tickets and on December 21 the family was reunited. UIDN will continue to support them in their efforts to secure asylum.
During 2019, UIDN received nearly 400 requests for assistance including transportation and accompaniment for ICE appointments and court dates, assistance with housing and other basic needs, bond payments for release from detention to referrals for legal assistance, and more.
Monthly food and clothing giveaways are held by UIDN’s household support group, and whenever friends come to our office in need of food volunteers provide it. We have been actively engaged in creating a K-4 after-school program now serving 27 children at Kingston’s Chambers Elementary. In addition we host educational events and training and maintain a Rapid Response Team to document ICE activity in our communities.
While UIDN is the only all-volunteer provider of services to members of Kingston’s immigrant community, we work with other faith-based and secular community organizations whose primary focus is to effect policy changes (e.g., the Municipal ID and Green Light campaigns) so the system will be more user friendly for our immigrant neighbors. Beginning in December 2019, persons without documents will once again be able to apply for drivers’ permits and licenses.
Much has been done and much more needs to be done. As we move through winter, when temporary jobs become scarce, the cry for the relief of basic human needs becomes all the more intense, especially since non-citizens are not allowed to access many public assistance programs. It is only through your continuing contributions of time, talent, and treasure that UIDN is able to sustain its response to this local humanitarian crisis. We have tasks to be filled with the talents that only you can supply.
When we pause as a people to consider all our blessings and our need to cultivate ever more grateful hearts, I hope that more of us will be moved to renew our giving, as we are able, to the good work of welcoming the stranger among us.
Please make checks payable to UIDN’s fiscal sponsor, Holy Cross Church; write UIDN on the check’s memo line and mail to Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church, 30 Pine Grove Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401. And, while you’re here, please explore our new website to learn more about our work, get involved as a volunteer, find resources for your immigrant friends and neighbors, and donate.
All the best for a loving 2020,
Father Frank Alagna for all of UIDN