UMCOR grant boosts aid for asylum seekers

Courtesy photo from UMCOR.org
Courtesy photo from UMCOR.org
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Recognizing that the situation at the United States-Mexico border requires immediate and dramatic action, the United Methodist Committee on Relief has awarded new funding to Church World Service (CWS) that will be used to help asylum seekers on their journey to safety. Thanks to the grant from UMCOR, CWS will be able to hire additional staff at some UMC border shelters, provide case management services to asylum seekers and advance its efforts to advocate for rebuilding a humane immigration system in the United States. 

Your gifts on UMCOR Sunday helps support the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere.

“This grant will serve as a vital lifeline for families seeking to build new lives free from persecution and danger,” said Rick Santos, president and CEO of Church World Service. “Asylum seekers don’t just want to come to America, they want to be a part of it. With this support they will be able to become active participants and contributors to our communities.”

On January 20, 2021, President Biden ended the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, which had required asylum seekers to remain indefinitely in unsafe communities along the northern border of Mexico until their cases could be processed. To date, 16,000 individuals have registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and more than 3,000 have already crossed the border. This change in federal policy, combined with significantly increased traffic at the border of non-MPP-affected asylum seekers, has challenged the existing asylum services infrastructure. 

UMCOR’s past support of CWS, an agency focused on helping refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, helped create the Leading With Welcome program operated in partnership with Justice for our Neighbors (JFON) in Jersey City, Miami and Houston. Through this program, JFON provides legal assistance to asylees, and CWS provides critical case management that helps people seek psychosocial support, health care and other key services. 

With the new $1.1 million grant, approved by the UMCOR board at its Spring 2021 meeting, CWS will have additional resources to assist individuals from the moment they are welcomed into a United Methodist Church (UMC) border shelter until they are integrated into a new community in the United States. 

The UMCOR grant will enable Church World Service’s Leading with Welcome program to: 

  • Hire additional staff members to support operations at some UMC border shelters 
  • Increase protection of 10,000 asylum seekers at UMC border shelters through improved shelter operations, infrastructure, transportation and bed capacity 
  • Provide case management services to 450 asylum seekers in South Florida and Jersey City 
  • Provide case management to 150 asylum seekers throughout the United States through the CWS network 
  • Provide legal services to 200 asylum seekers in South Florida, Jersey City, and throughout the United States 
  • Improve referral systems and access to services for 1,000 asylum seekers nationwide. 

excerpt from a Press Release by Dan Curran for Global Ministries/UMCOR and Christopher Plummer of Church World Service 

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Your gifts to UMCOR Sunday lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere. The special offering underwrites UMCOR’s “costs of doing business.” This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not administrative costs.

When you give generously on UMCOR Sunday, you make a difference in the lives of people who hurt. Give now.