Strangers No Longer
December 2020

A family whose daughter is being treated for rickets and would not be able to receive this treatment in her home country, recently received notice of immediate deportation after their request to complete treatment at Shriners Children's Hospital in Chicago for her was denied.

The family has been supported by our Circle of Support at St. Anne's (Detroit) and the Circle immediately went into action. In a matter of a few days, SNL had mobilized all of the Circles to get letters of support from over 20 parishes, community leaders and elected officials. Their efforts resulted in the family receiving a "Stay of Deportation" for at least one year.

Irma Landin-Obregon, with SNL and St. Anne's Circle of Support, cheered the decision by ICE. "I am floating on air right now," Landin said. "Feeling super blessed."

SNL is proud of what our organization was able to accomplish here. By having relationships with the community and elected officials and television and print media, we were able to respond quickly to this crisis and help secure this wonderful outcome for Daris Bartolon and her family. There is great strength in working together!

For more on the story: Click here.
Our collective experience with the Bartolon family has been moving and has also been a teaching moment for us.

Here is what came to me:

  • We were able to come together in a short 9 days and mobilize pastors, the press, SNL members and other interested people to make the case for this family who were not going to be granted a stay of deportation without a substantial base of support and attention.
  • We act when we connect with a family's story and when we know what to do.
  • It is necessary to push our own boundaries and invite other to do the same to bring about change.
  • We are gaining relationships with legislators who are willing to take action with us.
  • We have allies from other organizations who will join in with us.
  • An ICE official was willing to respond to a humanitarian need. 
  • We are blessed and humbled by the fortitude and courage of the families we accompany.

While the doors of many of our houses need to stand closed this year, I am very grateful for the hearts of so many that stand wide open.

I hope you have a warm and safe Christmas and a New Year of deep joy.

Rosemary Insley
President, Strangers No Longer
One by one, Circles are setting up meetings with their State Representatives to advocate for the legislation in Michigan to allow a driver license without proof of citizenship. The bills that were introduced in 2019 languished in committees without hearings and have to be re-introduced with the new legislature.  

Three Circles have had meetings: Our Mother of Perpetual Help with Rep. Regina Weiss, Gesu with Rep. Shri Thanedar and Christ Our Light both Rep. Jim Ellison and Rep. Padma Kuppa. Every representative has agreed to co-sponsor the bills and to inform State Rep. Alex Garza (Taylor) who was the sponsor of last year's bill.  

As you plan your own Circle's meeting, you may want to consider how Gesu ran theirs. Gesu's Circle of Support spent 45 minutes with Rep. Thanedar. First the 17 parishioners each introduced themselves--name, where they live, and their major social concern. After the DRIVE SAFE bills were briefly explained, Rep. Thanedar agreed to co-sponsor the bills. He then talked for 15 minutes about himself and his focus for 2021. Then parishioners had 20 minutes to ask other questions.  

This meeting established a new relationship with Gesu’s state representative. Relationships like these can be a valuable resource in the coming year for the Circle and for the entire Parish! Consider using your meeting with your representative as a way to invite non-parishioners to your Circle ("Evangelization" of a different sort!)

At our last Assembly of Circle Leaders meeting on Saturday, November 14, experts discussed the national election, the role of grassroots organizations in the fight for immigrant rights, racism in the U.S., and the road ahead for our parishes and communities.

Our panelists were:

1) State Senator Marshall Bullock – Since 2018 Senator Bullock has served as state representative to Allen Park City, Detroit, Lincoln Park, Southgate. He is also Chairperson of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus.

2) Oscar Chacon – Co‐founder and executive director of Alianza Americas. 
Oscar is a frequent national and international spokesperson on migration policies, racism and xenophobia and U.S. Latino community issues.

3) U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell – Representative for the 12th Congressional District since 2015. Congresswoman Dingell just won a decisive victory in this election. 

All three want to collaborate with our Parish Circles.
Reuters (December 4, 2020)

Hurricane Eta hit Honduras in early November causing widespread devastation in the region. Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Iota hit the region compounding the destruction. The area was already suffering economically due to restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic, which led to mass unemployment.

The two hurricanes displaced more than 500,000 people in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, many of whom may not be able to rebuild their lives. Thousands of the hurricane victims are planning to head to the United States in search of a better life.

The mass migration may pose an early challenge for President-Elect Joe Biden, who intends to reverse many of President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies but must do so “without turning pent up pressure into a border crisis.”

At our meetings we have often discussed the need for our non-Spanish speaking SNL members to understand and speak some Spanish. 

We now have a way to do that!

The Circle of Support at Gesu has informed us of a parishioner and asylum seeker who has founded a school to teach Spanish. The school offers classes for children and adults. They offer a variety of services including classes for medical professionals to help them converse with their patients, Spanish for business, Spanish for travelers, as well as children’s courses.  

The classes are all taught by native Spanish speakers. Currently all the classes are taught online. 

Here is the contact information:

Carmen Luna, owner
Luna Spanish Center
Additional Resources to Advocate for Immigrants from the U.S.C.C.B.
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Detroit, MI 48221