by Bruce Martin
Our church is about to welcome two new asylum-seekers, a father and teenage daughter from Guatemala. Their arrival stems from our Asylum Team’s efforts that began in July and have involved many church members. This follows the previous work of Karen and Mike Lauer and is related to the process by which First Unitarian has become a sanctuary church. We had several disappointing leads on persons needing sponsorship until we struck pay dirt (finally!) in late December.
Father (Rudi) and daughter (Yanci) first arrived in the US almost two years ago, when they were separated at the border: Rudi was summarily deported, while a tearful Yanci was sent to live with a relative in Connecticut. Thanks to an ACLU lawsuit, he was allowed to return to the US last week. This time he got the due process denied him earlier and passed quickly through initial ICE screening. He and Yanci were reunited last weekend and should arrive in Des Moines very soon.
The plan is for them to live with us for a short while and then move into an apartment already rented for them. They will be here at least until they receive green cards for employment (within 6-9 months). Our job will be to support them in every way during this time and to make sure they show up for ICE check-ins and court appointments. The team is busy furnishing the apartment and organizing several other areas of support.
We could not be doing this without the Lauers’ example and the team’s help and encouragement. The Dec. 24 service and the special contribution wall produced significant support for this effort. In the coming weeks you will be hearing about its progress, as well as how you might help with it and with the broader sponsorship movement in Iowa.