We chose the recipient of our January Special Offering as an expression of our commitment to countering policies and narratives that criminalize immigrants.
Specifically, it will go to Gethsemane Lutheran Church to support Jose Robles who has been there in sanctuary since June 28. We want to support Jose, his family and their gracious and grace-filled hosts and to demonstrate our solidarity for all who are impacted by the current inhumane immigration system.
Jose is the father of three daughters and an important member of the Lakewood community, where he has lived for 15 years. He was the primary income earner for his family until he was forced to enter sanctuary by the threat of deportation. Since that time he has been unable to work. Entering sanctuary also meant living apart from his family.
His two oldest daughters, college students, were then compelled to secure employment to keep the household together. Nine-year-old daughter Nathalie Robles says she’s in shock and just hoping she doesn’t have to go anywhere. Susana, Jose’s wife, is pregnant and mandated to bed rest, so the family is even more financially challenged than it was before Jose entered sanctuary. To make matters worse, just a few weeks ago the older daughters were laid off when Boeing cut back on several local contractors.
Jose’s attorney has been trying to seek a U-Visa for him. U-Visas are given to certain undocumented immigrants who are victims of a crime and are cooperative with law enforcement in an investigation. In April, Jose was held at gunpoint and beaten while trying to get a haircut. To-date, Lakewood officials have refused to provide verification of the crime so that Jose can qualify for the visa.
All funds given to the Gethsemane Lutheran Church Sanctuary Fund will go for expenses such as maintaining the Lakewood apartment where Jose’s family resides. It will also help to provide groceries for the family, which often eats together at Gethsemane to provide some sense of normalcy for Jose. The church has also hosted family celebrations, such as two recent children’s birthdays.
As we help with Jose’s sanctuary needs, we hope to educate ourselves further on how to be of general and specific help to those who fear deportation before they have a chance to defend their right to remain in our country. Representing us in local sanctuary support are Cassie Emanuel, Lisbeth Gilbert and Pam Smith-Mentz. They will be glad to answer questions you may have about our participation in this tragic deportation situation.
For more information, please refer to:
- The Economist: “When Houses of Prayer Become Places of Shelter,” 10/17/18
- August update from the Seattle Times: After 5 weeks in a Seattle church, undocumented immigrant says he still has hope
- Also see original Seattle Times story: Father of three takes sanctuary at Seattle church to avoid deportation