Category Archives: Human Rights

My Time at the Border

by Kayla Sue Jacobs

Kayla at the Border

“The Catholic Church is beautiful, it is a beautiful religion.” I was sitting in my rental car in the middle of the southern California desert with a man from Honduras and his young son. He was thanking me for all of the assistance he and his son received from Catholic Charities of San Bernardino as they were seeking asylum in the U.S. Their short stay with us at the Catholic Charities respite center for asylum seekers was their last stop before reuniting with their loved ones in the U.S. We were waiting for his Greyhound bus to take them to their family in Texas. He was one of the 501 asylum seekers I came in contact with during my two weeks with Catholic Charities at Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church in Coachella, California.

The Central American Project of Catholic Charities of the San Bernardino Diocese is a partnership between Catholic Charities and Our Lady of Soledad Parish. Asylum seekers come to them after being released from border patrol. At that point they are free to travel to their U.S. sponsor, usually a family member already in the U.S. The problem, however, is that they do not have the means to get to them. Many of them arrive with little to no money. The main objective of the Central American Project is to get their guests to their families as quickly as possible by coordinating their travel plans, getting them travel money, and giving them a ride to the bus station or airport.

It was always a bitter sweet experience dropping people off at the bus station. It was exciting because they were on their last leg of travel before seeing their family members. It was their last leg of many weeks of horrible travel, in horrible conditions. Truly their time with us was the most hopeful time during their journey. It was kind of a light at the end of the tunnel of sorts. But it was also bitter because we all knew that the journey didn’t end there. Once they make it to their destination, there is still a chance that they won’t be granted asylum and eventually they might be sent back to their country of origin.

At the respite center there was a large crucifix hanging in one of the hallways. I would frequently see people praying in front of it. I can’t imagine what those prayers were like at a time of such uncertainty for them.

Since I left the center I’ve heard reports that not as many people have been arriving due to changing U.S. policy and debate around the issue. People are stuck with border patrol or in Mexico without getting a chance to seek asylum, which is leading to dangerous situations such as the horrible instance of the young father and his daughter drowning in the Rio Grande on June 23rd, 2019. There is even more uncertainty for asylum seekers now than ever before.

That uncertainty calls for certain action amongst us all. My time at the border motivated me in my work here, locally, to lobby for a change in policy that would help all immigrants and asylum seekers and to resist unjust treatment towards people at the border but also in our local community. The people who came through our doors were traveling to communities all over the U.S., so quite literally it is a local issue. They are our actual neighbors, who we are supposed to welcome, love, and protect.

In the yard of the respite center there was a huge shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Let us pray through her intercession for the protection of asylum seekers and everyone on a journey of uncertainty. Let us also pray for the conversion of hearts towards a dedication to welcoming our neighbors. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

About the author:

Kayla Sue Jacobs is the Relief and Development Coordinator for the Joliet Diocese Office for Human Dignity and a member of the Nativity House – Catholic Worker Community in Lockport, Illinois.

Radical Love

Press Conference ISD

Hello, my name is Kayla Jacobs. I am the Relief and Development Coordinator for the Catholic Diocese of Joliet’s Justice & Peace Ministry in the Office for Human Dignity.

We are here in partnership with our fellow people of faith and Immigrant Solidarity DuPage and in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at the border waiting to enter the US, people enroute to the US, and migrants everywhere.

While the issue at our southern border has been highly politicized our response is simple, Human Dignity is above all and love of God and neighbor is our priority.

Over the past several months we have been able to engage our parishioners in this caravan project and the turnout has not been a disappointment. Many of our parishes and universities have collected items for our asylum seeking brothers and sisters. We are grateful for the opportunity to do practical hospitality at the border by providing material and humanitarian needs for respite centers but most importantly we are grateful for the opportunity to show our brothers and sisters that they are welcomed here in this country. We are also grateful to show our parishioners and individuals who have donated that their actions make a difference in the lives of others.

On January 20th the US Bishops released a statement regarding immigration. In the statement they noted their opposition to a border wall and any changes to current law that would make it more difficult for unaccompanied children and asylum seekers to access protection and they end it with the hope that a conclusion is made that would show compassion, safety, and protection for the vulnerable.

Last week I attended the Bishop’s annual Peace and Justice conference with about 500 other advocates. Our Diocese, the Diocese of Joliet, which includes DuPage county had the most amount of participants out of the whole country. While we were there we advocated for the permanent protection of DREAMERS and TPS holders but NOT at the cost of other protected populations such as Asylum seekers, which some politicians have suggested. We, as a Church, are unwilling, to negotiate one protected population for another. Our reasoning again, is simple, the book of John, John 10:10.  states: “Christ came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” All who seek a life of basic human rights should be granted the opportunity to actually seek it out.

In conclusion, I would like to wish our legislators a happy valentines day and invite them to love thy neighbor.

Thank you.