The state of waiting

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write yet another “waiting” post. I was hoping that something would shake loose and “Ben” would follow his friends into freedom. Failing that, I was hoping I would be able to turn my creative energies in other directions to so that I would find something totally different to write about.

Neither has happened, although something could happen any minute. See, that is the problem: the expectation that something could happen any minute. Not good. Continue reading

ICE breaking?

Last Thursday afternoon, hours after I’d posted the latest update, word came that one of our three asylum seekers in detention had just been released on bond. “Our”refers to the two other South Bend couples and ourselves, sponsors-in-waiting for three African asylum seekers who have made much of the journey thus far together and have been in a detention facility on this side of the Mexican border since October. Continue reading

Swallowing the stories

I have been learning gradually that what we are doing–connecting with an asylum-seeking refugee whom we have never met but who is now in detention, hoping to get him paroled to us so he can seek asylum in relative freedom rather than from prison—is kind of a new thing. No wonder it has seemed puzzling, iffy, and kind of ad hoc, with new developments at every turn. Continue reading

Life in the sponsor lane

Sometimes when you are dealing with an asylum-seeker things happen very fast, sometimes very slowly, sometimes not at all. It’s stop-start rollercoaster stuff. Last week, for example, a friend of our guys who had been held for five months in a different detention center was suddenly sprung free on parole with no explanation. There is a welcome party for her tomorrow night at the Episcopal church. Miracles do happen.

Meanwhile, we and the other two sponsor couples we’ve teamed up with, because our guys are being detained together, have adjusted our sights to the long haul. Continue reading

What is a sponsor?

Since we signed on in early November to “sponsor” an asylum-seeker who is being detained at the border, we have been learning what that means. On the one hand, you’d think such a relationship should have been clearly defined for us at the outset. On the other hand, it is not at all simple, so no one could have predicted that it would turn out the way it is currently unfolding. Continue reading

A court date for Ben

Just when it looked like “Ben,” the African asylum seeker whom we are sponsoring, might wait interminably in the processing center where he is being detained just on this side of the border in New Mexico, the logjam broke. This week he was given a court date for his bond hearing: January 7. Getting a court date was a major hurdle. The prospects look good for his imminent release, though that will be up to the judge. Continue reading

Wait for it

Sometimes I experience the Christian season of Advent as an artificially imposed waiting period. Like, you will get Christmas if you sit quietly for four weeks. Let’s all patiently wait for the Baby Jesus to be born though this actually happened several thousand years ago and we go through this every year. This season of waiting, of course, is completely countercultural. We are surrounded with Get ready! Buy now!

This year, however, the decision to sponsor an asylum seeker has given new meaning to Advent as a waiting period. Continue reading

“Ben”

Word came today from a contact who is working with asylum seekers in detention on this side of the border that our refugee’s latest interview did not go well. His officer was threatening to deport him because he’d entered the country after the law had changed to require application for asylum from outside the country. But the refugee, whom I will call Ben, which is not his real name, had actually requested asylum from two different places outside the country. Continue reading