by Dean Ryan Newman
On Wednesday, a portion of the newly installed US Border Wall toppled over in high winds landing on trees on the Mexican side of the border. Officials indicated that the concrete supports had not yet properly cured. Ultimately, the border wall was unable to withstand the gusty conditions. Thankfully, there were no injuries or property damage.
A little over three years ago, the “building of a border wall” became the signature campaign promise “To Make America Great Again.” Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to construct 450 miles of wall separating the United States and Mexico. The project has faced significant opposition and experienced numerous setbacks. Despite the challenges, it was announced earlier this month that the 100-mile mark had been reached.
A wall stretching 450 miles throughout the Southwest desert stands (and partially leans at least in one section) as a sad and empty symbol of our nation’s distorted immigration policies and practices. I grew up learning in school that the American “Immigration” Brand was “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” In adulthood, I have learned the American “Immigration” Brand of my childhood is as viable today as Sears, Kodak, and Blockbuster Video.
Walls are bad for business. Walls are bad for the brand. Walls are bad for humanity.
In Robert Frost’s popular poem Mending Wall , we hear the story of two men, who live next door to one another, and every spring they walk together the stone wall that divides their properties. However, the speaker of the poem wonders aloud the purpose of the wall given that neither man has livestock needing to be contained. Within the speaker’s property is an apple orchard and his neighbor’s property is a pine forest.
“My apple trees will never get across and eat the cones under his pines” says the speaker. His neighbor retorts, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
The craft of building walls is as old as humankind. Walls allow us to create chasms, separating those of us on the inside from those who are on the outside. Behind the wall, we are not forced to see the suffering, the pain, the disparity, and the need. Behind the wall, we are not obligated to love our neighbor as ourselves, because we don’t see our neighbor. Behind the wall, we are not required to respect the dignity of every human being, because we live in a world made for one. Behind the wall, we only see what we want to see. Behind the wall, we don’t see what God sees.
Good fences don’t make good neighbors. And good neighbors don’t make fences.
Let us pray that the concrete supports never properly cure on the walls we build and that the Holy Spirit continues to blow mighty gusts throughout humanity.

Dean Ryan Newman serves the diocese at St James Cathedral in Fresno.

On January 27, the US Supreme Court unblocked the administration's changes to the Public Charge Rule.

So what is the Public Charge Rule and how does that impact immigrants?

First, you have to understand that there's a difference between Public Benefits and the Public Charge Rule.

Public Benefits means help from the government for basic needs such as health care, housing, food or money. Public benefits can be from federal, state or local governments. Not everyone qualifies for public benefits.

The Public Charge Rule is specifically geared towards people who apply for a Green card through their family. When the application is reviewed, the immigration official can deny the application if it is determined that the person is likely to depend too much on public benefits in the future. So the immigration official considers the immigrant's health, age, education and skills, family support and sponsor, and the use of some kinds of public benefits already.

However, only THESE public benefits used by the applicant are in the Public Charge Rule: 1. cash benefits such as Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants and General Assistance/Relief; and 2. Medi-Cal/Medicaid for long-term (nursing home) care.

The Public Charge Rule mostly affects people who are applying for a Green Card with a family-based petition or Permanent Residents who traveled outside the US for more than six months.

It does not affect:
--Green Card holders applying for citizenship or renewal,
--asylum seekers,
--Temporary Protected Status individuals, --DACA recipients,
--Special Immigrant Juvenile Status individuals,
--U Visa holders,
--T visa holders,
--people applying for withholding of removal or Convention Against Torture benefits
--applicants who are applying for Violence Against Women Act and a Green Card, --Cubans,
--Afghan and Iraqi interpreters and translators applying for special immigrant visas,
--people applying for Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act benefits,
--people applying for Haitian Relief and Immigrant Fairness Act benefits,
--Lautenberg parolees,
--and other "humanitarian" immigrants
(source: Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc)

You can learn more about the changes to Public Charge Rules and benefits that immigrants may qualify for by checking out the website: keepyourbenefits.ca.org

Prayers of the People for use in Lent
SJRAISE Immigration prayers for all congregations Year A 2020

The following biddings are meant to be added, and modified to the current Prayers of the People format used by each congregation. The intention here is to include one bidding regarding Immigration for each Church Year Season. The reference to DACA recipients may be included at any time as the issue is being reviewed and decided currently.

As our leaders ponder the future of our DACA recipients;
Let us pray for those leaders to make fair human decisions.

Lord as we walk with you on your journey to Jerusalem let us be mindful of others who face hate and danger every day; Let us pray for those fleeing their homelands and those who face hatred in any parts of the world.

Risen Lord as we rejoice in your rising let us be mindful of those who have little to rejoice about. Let us pray for those who have little joy in their lives, those persecuted and alone.
Canon Anna & the Rev. Nancy Frausto reunited at Rooted in Jesus in Atlanta Georgia in late January. Rev. Nancy was excited to share that her DACA status has been renewed for another 2 years!

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Faith in the Valley
Calls to Action and Training
Civil Dialogue Training: February 15, 2020

Cost: approximately $25

Site: St. Paul's Commons (Episcopal Cathedral Center) in Los Angeles. 

This all-day event will be led by Alan Yarborough, Church Relations Officer with the Episcopal Office of Governmental Affairs. The training will equip folks to lead congregations in engagement on divisive issues based on the curriculum Alan developed for the Episcopal Church, the Civil Discourse Curriculum. 

Call to the Wall: March 28, 2020

Sponsored by the Episcopal Dioceses of San Diego and Los Angeles.   

The Diocese of Los Angeles is organizing a visit to Tijuana earlier in the day to visit some programs assisting immigrants. The Call to the Wall involves a hike along the beach to "Friendship Park" where the border wall extends into the ocean. Details still being worked out. Here's a bit about last year's event:   https://edsd.org/event/via-crucis-called-to-the-wall/