Op-Ed

Show solidarity with migrants, refugees at Saturday pilgrimage, service

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This is a time of great and increasing uncertainty for immigrants living among us, whatever their citizenship or country of origin. In fact, it is an extremely difficult time for the marginalized and members of minorities living among us, whether they were born in this country or not.

While immigrants from some countries have been welcomed over the years, too often refugee and immigrants from other countries have faced indifference or hostility. This has happened while we have often relied on them to do difficulty and sometimes dangerous jobs for long hours and for very low wages.

Recent changes in immigration and enforcement policies have left many of these people with very little sense of security or, sometimes, hope. Those of us in more fortunate circumstances must, in conscience, step up and offer them both expressions of solidarity and practical help.

Thankfully, numerous groups and coalitions are coming together to aid and express solidarity with our neighbors in their time of need.

One important chance to express solidarity is the “Share the Journey with Migrant, Refugee, and Marginalized Sisters and Brothers” pilgrimage taking place Saturday, Oct. 20, starting at 10 a.m. at the Courthouse Plaza and ending at Historic St Paul Catholic Church, where there will be a brief service, beginning with song and dance by our Congolese sisters and brothers.

The intention of the event is “to promote a just and inclusive community, especially in this climate of enhanced danger for immigrants, refugees, and the marginalized. We stand together, walk together, and pray together as a public witness to the dignity of the human person and the obligation we have as companions on the journey to accompany one another and build the culture of encounter.”

This event is sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington with Lexington UNITED Interfaith Encounters, Catholic Charities, The Catholic Action Center and others.

Turning to an organization dedicated to providing practical and emotional support, the Community Response Coalition of Central Kentucky (CRC4me.org) is ready and able to provide free help to Central Kentucky families negatively impacted by immigration enforcement.

The need for such help is made clear by a recent study by the Henry J, Kaiser Family Foundation which found, “When a family member is detained or deported, immigrant families often face financial hardship, physical and emotional health consequences, and new fears of engaging with public programs.”

Often the person detained is the primary wage earner of a family. As the Community Response Coalition press release puts it, “We care deeply about those families — often women and children. Sometimes those family members are immigrants and sometimes they are US citizens. They are our friends and neighbors — members of our community. We have come together to offer assistance to those families in a time of crisis.”

CRC brings together community volunteers and organizations from many backgrounds and persuasions to assist families with emergency needs to connect with local resources in the community and provide limited temporary financial assistance, to relieve the burden of emergency hardships.

It also seeks to provides assistance in preparing general and special powers of attorney, help locate immigrant family members in detention, assist with in-person or video visits with detained family members, and provide reliable information on immigration laws and constitutional protections.

To learn more, call 1-800-674-9217. Press “1” for emergency and “0” for general information, including how to volunteer , contribute or go to www.crc4me.org. For more information, contact JR Zerkowski at jrchevychase@aol.com.

Rick Clewett is an Eastern Kentucky University professor emeritus; Stan “JR” Zerkowski is founder of Lexington United Interfaith Encounters; Marilyn S. Daniel is a volunteer immigration attorney at Maxwell Street Legal Clinic; and Dominique Olbert is chair of Coordinating Committee of Community Response Coalition.

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