Colorado & Nebraska Evangelical Leaders Tour Border Agencies
August 20, 2014
MCALLEN, TEXAS— On Friday, local Colorado and Nebraska faith leaders and public officials joined the Christian Community Development Association in McAllen to tour facilities that help process and meet the immediate needs of family units and unaccompanied minors crossing the border.
The faith leaders gained first-hand knowledge of how communities are working together to address the current humanitarian need, and joined a roundtable discussion with other local and national faith, law enforcement and public sector leaders after the tour to discuss how to support children coming to local communities.
The following quotes are from participants in Friday’s tours and roundtable discussion:
Debra Bartelson, Legislative Policy Analyst and Co-Chair, Denver Latino Commission, Denver, Colo.:
“After my time in McAllen seeing the border relief efforts first-hand, I am left with many questions. The issue is overwhelming, and I am reminded of something Mother Teresa said when faced with enormous need, ‘if you can’t feed the millions, then just feed one.’ We as civic and faith leaders must collaborate with each other to both identify existing needs and combine our resources to do what we can to help.”
Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago, Ill.:
“A delegation of CCDA Board members, staff and members from across the nation traveled to McAllen, TX to get a first-hand look at the humanitarian crisis with the unaccompanied children that is impacting our southern border. Along with being moved by seeing the children, we were inspired by the compassionate response of church, city and community leaders. Like these leaders, we are committed to offering our support as CCDA.”
Susan Shepherd, Councilwoman, Denver City Council:
“My biggest take-away from my time spent at the border in McAllen was how compassionate the response was from all entities, including the public and non-profit sector and the faith community. I was inspired by their grace, strength & commitment under fire. Not one person complained. McAllen has set the bar very high. I hope that if Denver is chosen to receive some of the unaccompanied minors, that we too will rise above the endless squabbling over immigration issues and recognize that these are humans fleeing horrible conditions in their own countries and in desperate need of safety, basic life necessities and compassionate and respectful treatment.”
Dr. Lois Svoboda, Missions Committee, The Presbyterian Church of Fremont, Neb.:
“Being a part of the McAllen border trip, I was able to see first-hand what is happening with refugees crossing our border. What I witnessed was an amazing network of collaboration between city, faith, and law enforcement leaders working together to address the pressing need. The media, who constantly shares the negative, has all but left out what I saw and experienced. There was no hostility only people in leadership who had a welcoming attitude. A leader from the city of McAllen shared that any person who crosses the boundary of McAllen should be welcomed and not asked where they came from. My hope for my Nebraska community is to learn from them and take a step forward to work together. I don’t believe that politicians who comment perpetually on the negative will be able to offer us solutions. We need to start with the faith community and look to them for the moral leadership that they can offer.”
Michelle Warren, Director of Advocacy & Policy Engagement, CCDA; Colorado and Nebraska Coordinator, Evangelical Immigration Table, Denver, Colo.:
“The issues surrounding immigration and our borders continue to loom large. It is very apparent that we do not have a secure border problem in our country but rather a global migration problem. Seeing the border, hearing from local law enforcement, public sector officials and faith leaders all addressing the needs of those crossing the border was both inspiring and insightful. What we hear in the news is not reflective of what is actually taking place. The community network of care that exists in McAllen is that story that should be lifted up. People are working together to meet the needs of people; help is taking place seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.”