The Bus Ride from Texas: How St. Martin’s Makes the Connection
Refugee Resettlement Ministry (RRM) has a history of support for many worthy immigrant advocacy groups. Representatives of several of those organizations were on hand last week to provide what was described as “a safe and caring welcome” to 28 migrants, most of them from Columbia, but some from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. They had been bused to Philadelphia from Del Rio, Texas, and arrived before sunup on Wednesday, November 16.
Representatives from New Sanctuary Movement, HIAS Philadelphia, JUNTOS, and the Nationalities Service Center, along with volunteers from other groups and Philadelphia city government officials, met the bus as it pulled into 30th Street Station, providing winter coats, blankets, and hot chocolate to the new arrivals. Subsequently, many were taken to a welcome center in North Philadelphia, where they were provided with food, shelter, and medical screenings.
We thought you might want to know a bit about the organizations that met that bus.
RRM began in 2016, as interested parishioners responded to the systematic dismantling of the refugee resettlement system. There was a big movement to sponsor Syrians—and we did sponsor numerous individuals and a Syrian family. Those relationships continue.
But fundamentally, there was no pipeline for refugees coming into the United States. Increasingly, those fleeing persecution and violence that arrived in the United States seeking asylum were being put in detention centers. We realized we needed to look beyond sanctioned refugees and take a broader view—not just the policy work, but the grassroots work.
The mission of New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia is to build “community across faith, ethnicity and class in our work to end injustices against immigrants regardless of immigration status, express radical welcome for all, and ensure that values of dignity, justice, and hospitality are lived out in practice and upheld in policy.” NSM met what we were looking for and is a faith-based organization that collaborates with interfaith groups. It provided us a natural way to be involved. With vestry approval we became a congregation member and have participated in trainings, workshops, campaigns, events, and accompanying families facing deportation.
Even during the pandemic, we were able to be on committees and support refugees and asylum seekers who were displaced. We successfully helped immigrants from Latin American nations and the Caribbean. We worked on policy issues like closing detention centers, and getting drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Written by Jeff Meade
For more information on how to join Refugee Resettlement Ministry, please contact Lyn Buchheit at 215-495-8115 or Jeff Meade at 215-806-8028.