Due to numerous humanitarian crises around the world, thousands of people are seeking asylum in the United States, some of whom make perilous journeys to the southern border. In April 2022, the state of Texas began sending many of these asylum seekers in buses to Washington, D.C., without plans for their care or in coordination with the city government or others in the area.
When no response was initiated by the District of Columbia to receive these groups, a community-based effort began between the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network (a network of mutual aid groups and other organizations) and faith-based partners wanting to support the welcome, respite, and humanitarian needs of these individuals and families.
Locations were identified for each day of the week to host and support those arriving that day. Starting in July 2022, Washington City Church of the Brethren partnered with Hill Havurah, a Jewish congregation, to support and receive those arriving one day a week, with Washington City Church as the host facility.
The church and Hill Havurah jointly served 857 individuals of all ages during 2022, when their center was open to offer support from July through December (21 dates of service). They provided these services when they receive a bus (with about 36 or less hours’ advance notice), or they planned an event to support migrants living in temporary housing.
The church and Hill Havurah continue to partner to support migrants in 2023. Additionally, the church’s commitments to the work have expanded to include several days of migrant support each week.
Please pray… For the asylum seekers including children, youth, women, and men, who are bused from the southern border to various cities including Washington, D.C., Chicago, and elsewhere. Please pray for all those who are aiding these people in need.
Asylum seekers–individuals and families coming from the buses or temporary housing–are welcomed into the fellowship hall of the church for respite support, a meal, and other services. The children are invited to play in a space set aside especially for them, with toys, books, and craft items. An additional room in the church has been transformed into a storage area where the migrants can obtain donated clothing and toiletries including warm coats, gloves, and other needed supplies for winter.
Partnerships have sustained this ministry and built connections across secular and faith-based groups in the community:
— The Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network continues to organize individuals and faith communities to participate in this work.
— The partnership between Washington City Church of the Brethren and Hill Havurah emerged from several partnerships over the last decade.
— Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers from local districts responded to be present, provide children’s activities, and help train local volunteers to work with the children once a week, July through September 2022. CDS also donated items to stock the children’s area.
— Nearby Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren has periodically helped to provide supplies and volunteers.
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