During my vacation recently, I drove all the way to the Oregon Border and down to the Mexican border. While we were traveling, brutal heat waves scorched the west. Some communities are so unaccustomed to the heat that most homes do not have air conditioning. Almost everyone was caught off guard, so it was not surprising up there to hear folks say, “everyone is suffering” and “this heat wave is an equalizer!” 
But that is not true. Those without disposable income, homes, etc do not have the freedom or ability to even secure air conditioning, let alone have a place to put it. For others, their income would not allow them to run an air conditioning unit for fear of the bill later. While it was easy for me to just hop in the car and turn on the ac for a few minutes, those without resources suffered. The heatwave was not an equalizer; in fact, we know that climate change is one of the reasons that people are forced to migrate, and yet, they may not find the relief they seek when they reach our border.
We have all the resources as citizens in the United States. Most U.S. citizens have no concept of the expense of time, money, and energy spent just trying to escape unsustainable circumstances, let alone find refuge. And that is just the beginning. Seeking citizenship is far more work.
The process of immigration and migration is not one where all things are equal. When we consider those migrating and immigrating to the U.S., it is important to take a moment and recall that the resources are scarce and difficult to come by and holding people without resources to the same expectations as those with resources is unjust at best.
In 1 Kings 7, Elijah the prophet encounters the widow of Zarapeth. She prepares a meal for him as was expected by social norms. Later, he discovers this is the last of her food and she expects to die of starvation. The social assumption that everyone can offer hospitality through a meal seemed to be an equalizing standard, but it wasn’t. For her, providing that meal was far more costly than it was for others. What she fed Elijah might have fed her and her son for days. The simple offer of a single meal cost her more than someone who had plenty. She simply did not have the same resources or access to get them.
Our role as Christians is to have compassion and to not only see, but act against the injustices which prevent any in the human family from experiencing housing, food, safety, and peace. We are invited by Jesus to be workers for equality of the world. When we work for justice in immigration, we work toward equalizing the circumstances and securing resources for those seeking what we already have: a safe place to live and work. 

Pastor Julie Kelly serves St James Lutheran & Episcopal Church of the Saviour in Hanford and is a member of SJRAISE.
Donations needed for International Rescue Committee

For those who have not heard, President Biden increased the historically low Trump-era refugee admissions cap for this fiscal year from 15,000 to 62,500. More information about this announcement, as well as the IRC’s response, can be found at the following link: https://www.rescue.org/press-release/irc-president-bidens-refugee-decision-good-america-good-refugees.
We are thrilled to hear of the administration’s decision and are grateful for the ways in which it will impact tens of thousands of survivors of conflict and persecution. While we have yet to learn how many refugees and special immigrants we will see here locally in the next few months, we are anticipating a substantial increase in the number of people we serve. This is fantastic news! It also means that now more than ever we will need support from friends like you to help lead individuals and families from harm to home.
How you can help
As we prepare to serve a larger number of refugees, asylees and other special immigrants in the Central Valley, there are many ways that you can provide support:
  • Donate Household Items: As new families and individuals arrive, they will need household furnishings such as furniture (particularly couches and dining sets that are in good condition), new bath and bedding items, and kitchen supplies. A list of our general donations needs is attached. Feel free to respond to this email or contact us by phone at 209-272-0751 if you wish to donate any of these items.
  • Provide Gift Cards: We have a huge need right now for gift cards from Target or Walmart. These donations are incredibly empowering because they give people the power to choose what clothing and household items they want to buy, a luxury that was not available to them while living in refugee camps. Gift cards from Target or Walmart can be sent to the following address:

International Rescue Committee
3446 N. Golden State Blvd., Ste. A
Turlock, CA 95382
Attn: Jonathan Partridge
You can also purchase Visa gift cards through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/IZ54FT2R92TL/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_2?_encoding=UTF8&type=wishlist
  • Volunteer: As more people arrive, we will need volunteers to help with virtual English language classes, job placement, and donation transportation. We will also likely need help transporting individuals and families to appointments once it becomes safe to do so. In addition, we will be looking for small groups who are interested in furnishing homes. More information on volunteer and internship opportunities can be found at the following link: https://www.rescue.org/volunteer-opportunities/turlock-ca

  • For donations that will specifically benefit the IRC in Turlock/Modesto, please contact us directly at [email protected].

Photojournalist and friend of SJRAISE, Sean Hawkey, is currently working on a documentary series on migration and climate change in Guatemala. This fall SJRAISE, in conjunction with the Anti-Racism Commission and the Creation Care Commission, hope to screen the documentary series and discuss the intersections between migration, climate change and navigating an inherently racist immigration system. More information will be forthcoming. In the meantime, take a look at some of the photos recently sent by Sean ("Migration from Mexico: Going North") and pray for those seeking a better life.
Migrants on bunks at a migrant refuge in Apizaco, Mexico. Most arrive at the refuge after three or four weeks travel from Honduras, much of it on foot and on the dangerous freight rail network known as La Bestia. Most arrive exhausted, many haven't eaten for days, many have suffered violence along the way, often at the hands of Mexican Police and criminal gangs.
© Copyright: Sean Hawkey Photography 2021, all rights reserved.
A group of migrant workers walk along railway tracks as they wait for a train heading north. Everyone in the group has worked in at least one trade, and they are hoping to find work in the US.
© Copyright: Sean Hawkey Photography 2021, all rights reserved.
Missing people posters are found across Tijuana, as thousands of migrants disappear each year. Some die on their journey across Mexico, drowned in rivers, or of dehydration in deserts, or in the many accidents on freight trains but many are killed by organized crime groups when they are kidnapped and ransom money isn't paid. Sex-related murder of women, known as femicides, is also common.
Sean Hawkey
A honduran migrant stands in a space between freight train carriages on a train known as 'La Bestia' or 'El Tren de la Muerte' travelling through Mexico. If he is successful the journey will take him more than a month and the most who take the journey experience one or more of the many dangers on the journey, such as being kidnapped and extorted, robbed and beaten, raped, being victim to accidents on the train network, extreme dehydration and even death in the desert or drowning in the rivers to cross into the US.
Sean Hawkey
COVID-19 Resources for Immigrants
(in Spanish)

Guía para Inmigrantes de California + Listos California Esta guía proporciona consejos sobre los servicios, incluyendo los beneficios públicos, que están disponibles para los inmigrantes californianos, incluidos algunos que están disponibles independientemente de su estatus migratorio. Visite COVID19.ca.gov para obtener más información. 

Calls to Action, Training and Resources

Give DACA Students a Pathway to Citizenship
On July 16, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a ruling stating that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was unlawful. The program, which the Obama administration created through executive action in 2012, provided certain undocumented individuals who arrived to the country as children with a renewable temporary status that protected them from deportation and allowed them to work in the United States. Although litigation contesting the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the program in September 2017 successfully kept the program alive, a May 2018 lawsuit filed by several attorneys general challenging the program’s legality resulted in the recent decision.

To learn more and contact your Senator, click here
Wrapped in Love

If you are a quilter and would like to contribute to the Wrapped in Love project, or if you would like to provide financial assistance for mailing and supplies, please contact Pastor Julie at: [email protected].

To view the video of the blessing of the blankets and hear from Pastor Julie and quilter, Jean Wright, click here

Episcopal Church Statement on Afgan Evacuation

The Episcopal Church calls on the Biden administration and Congress to develop comprehensive plans to evacuate and provide green cards for our Afghan allies who have supported the U.S. armed forces after U.S. armed forces leave Afghanistan on September 11, 2021. Many of the individuals who have worked for the U.S. armed forces as interpreters, drivers, and other support roles face dire situations once the United States completes the pullout for the region, including potential violent reprisals targeting them and their family members.

The entire statement can be found here
Check out Episcopal Migration Ministries new podcast:
Repairing the Breach: Building the Beloved Community Through Welcome
You can listen here!

The Immigration Services Directory, which provides a list of nonprofit community organizations that offer a broad range of immigration-related services in the Central Valley can be found here

Prayers of the People for use in Ordinary Time
SJRAISE Petitions for Prayers of the People:
Pentecost 2021

10th Sunday after Pentecost (Aug. 1) thru 16th Sunday after Pentecost (Sept. 12)
Lord God, give us hearts and wills to embrace the alien and the stranger in our midst. May our personal and communal lives reflect the welcome you have all people.
17th Sunday after Pentecost (Sept. 19) thru 23rd Sunday after Pentecost (Oct. 31)
Lord God, hear the cry for justice in the lives of immigrants and refugees. Unstop our ears that we may listen to their needs, and soften our hearts to be to them palpable signs of your compassion and righteousness.
All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1)
Lord God, grant the world to know that in you there are no longer strangers nor aliens. In the power of your Sprit reveal all your people as members of your household, and may our lives show forth the welcome and inclusion which is your will.
25th Sunday after Pentecost (Nov. 14)
Lord God, may your kingdom come bringing with it the righteousness that is your promise. Uncover the deceptions that keep our sisters and brothers estranged and in fear. Be with those awaiting trials and all who are detained. Through our efforts for them may they know your comfort.
Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King (Nov. 21)
Lord God, shed abroad among nations and leaders the abiding truth and love you have revealed in Jesus. Make known the sovereign justice that transcends borders and governments, and protect in your gentleness the victims of injustice and the casualties of our own complacency. 

written by Rev. Luis Rodriguez, St Paul's Bakersfield

Prayer in a time of pandemic​
Loving God, throughout the Scriptures you call us to “Fear not!”, but these are troubling times for the hardiest souls. Give us courage to face the challenges of this new threat to your human family. Give us prudence, to do the necessary things to protect ourselves and others. Give us the clarity of vision to learn from this disease the lesson we are too prone to forget, that we are all connected, regardless of race or nationality or political persuasion. We pray for those who are struggling with this disease, that their health may be restored. We pray for medical personnel and first responders caring for those in need, that they remain healthy and unflagging in their life-saving work. And we pray for all those economically impacted, that they may find the resources to maintain themselves and their families.  We ask all this, trusting in your abiding love, a love that even death cannot defeat. Amen.

Written by Deacon Tom Hampson, St John's Lodi

Special Prayers for Immigrants During COVID-19

Oh Lord; in this time of Covid-19 as we take shelter in our homes, we ask you to spread your love and healing over our brothers and sisters held in overcrowded detention centers and refugee camps. 
We ask Lord that you may soften the hearts of those in authority, that them may care for our sisters and brothers in this time of crises.

We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen

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Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) has developed a toolkit for supporting immigrants currently in detention.