In March I received a phone call asking if Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants (ICDI) could provide housing for the Congolese mother and daughter who were separated at the border. In order for them to be reunited they needed to have a stable place to live. We recently reconfigured our housing program and not everything was in place, but how could I say there was no room at the inn? Without hesitation I said yes. We’d figure out the details and do whatever necessary to make this happen.
What followed was an incredible effort by many wonderful people at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to get the mother released from immigration detention and into our care and then a second team effort to get the daughter released from the children’s center.
Witnessing their reunion was both heart warming and heart breaking. We were all so happy that they were together again after more than 4 months apart. We were also sad because this horrible and cruel tearing apart of a mother and her child should never have happened.
But we know it does. We meet fathers in immigration detention who came to the United States with their child and were separated. So-called ‘family detention’ is for mothers and children, not fathers. And we see families ripped apart by deportation, children forever scarred by the loss of a parent. None of this is good for individuals, families, or society. It doesn’t make us great.
In our Houses of Hospitality we are modeling what can be done instead of separating families and instead of jailing people who need protection. Mother and daughter are doing well in a supportive community environment that will help them heal and adjust to a new way of life. They will go to school, learn English, get the medical and mental health care they need, and mom will be helped with job readiness and employment.
If you believe, as we do, that we must show compassion and care to people who are forced to migrate, I hope you will consider supporting ICDI. Let’s build beloved community and the world we want, one that works for all, together. Blessed be.