As part of our mission to stand with refugees and migrants, LIRS works to empower refugees and LIRS network partners to engage in advocacy on both local and national levels. This year, LIRS decided to develop the program further by bringing the MRLA closer to the ground by hosting a number of local, state-level events in Georgia, New Hampshire, Texas, Ohio, and Nebraska.
After our visit to Sycamore Canyon, our team returned to Tucson for visits with two immigrant advocacy groups. First, the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, which is “the only organization in Arizona that provides free legal and social services to detained men, women, and children under threat of deportation.”
Unaccompanied immigrant children apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration officials are transferred to the care and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). According to ORR, “The majority of unaccompanied alien children are cared for through a network of state-licensed ORR-funded care providers, most of which are located close to areas where immigration officials apprehend large numbers of aliens.”
We’ve got a story in the bible about this, Leviticus 16:8. It’s about a goat. When the sins of a community become too much, and strife is rampant, the people are commanded to throw their sins on the goat and then cast it out of the community. It’s the ritual of the scapegoat. But the ritual tells us much more about the community enacting the ritual than it does about the goat. The goat remains an unjustly burdened and excommunicated caprine.
The second day of our border trip, we get up and travel to Eloy Detention Center. Many immigrants call Eloy The Icebox (hielera) because it is so consistently cold inside. It’s about an hour drive out of Tucson to Eloy. The setting is stark, 100-degree temperatures by mid-morning under an unrelenting sun, with the Catalina mountains as backdrop and frame. Next to the welcome sign for the center is a large cactus.
At the end of September, LIRS led a mission to Tucson, AZ to bear witness to the conditions of detention centers and immigration facilities housing children and individuals. The following story is part one of a five-part series we’re calling”Border Trip 2018″ — a firsthand account written by Pastor Clint Schnekloth, Board Chair of Canopy Northwest Arkansas.
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