Edmonds UMC: A Helping Hand in a National Crisis
The car ride from the Northwest Detention Center was long, quiet - the women unable to voice their journeys from Central America and Cuba. Their grief had begun long before they were apprehended at the Mexican border. Their personal stories were complicated and overwhelming - fleeing abuse, rape, gangs, poverty, and fear in their home countries. They arrived in the U.S. only to have their wrists and feet bound. A single blanket was shared between three detainees in a room known as the “Freezer” in the Texas detention center. Detainees were shuffled back and forth between buildings and placed in the “Kennel” where they could hear the cries of the children they were separated from. All the while, authorities never said what would happen next or where they would go. They waited in Texas then in Washington without word to their families; loved ones believed they had died.
It was these stories, the ones you don’t hear about in the news, that propelled congregants from Edmonds United Methodist Church to welcome the stranger and love their neighbors. Two congregants attended a meeting held by the Church Council of Greater Seattle on accompanying immigrants and immediately signed up to receive immigrants out on bond. They wanted to bring normalcy to a situation far from anything the immigrants had known. The knots of fear and hunger in the women released as the kindness of their temporary families set in, they were safe. The immigration assistants provided clean clothes, as the women only had the clothes on their backs. A stop for a meal before dinner was a necessity for one woman who reported being given spoiled food. Two women created pupusas for their temporary families one evening – finding joy and peace in an ordinary task. The immigrants didn’t stay long, two or three days, before they made the trip to their final destination and reunited with family. Immigrant assistants walked with them through the airport, fear became apparent once again as they faced transportation security agents in uniforms and had to go through extra screenings.
Of 206 immigrants, 177 were women, 60 of them parents, were received into the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma and the Federal Detention Center in Seatac. In August and September, 60 more are anticipated to be granted bond – bonds which are expected to increase in cost. Please help these women by selecting an item to purchase from the giving tree at Edmonds United Methodist Church beginning Sunday, August 12, or donate a gift card from Goodwill or Fred Meyer. All donations go directly to providing basic needs (clothing, small carryon bags, and toiletries) to people seeking asylum.