The Santa Cruz Welcoming Network was our featured guest on Talk of the Bay this week.
In this program I spoke to:
Elizabeth (not her real name)
Elizabeth and her two teenage sons are from El Salvador. They came here in great trauma. They witnessed the murder of their father when he resisted giving his car to a gang. They were separated at the border as she was accused of not being her children’s mom and of child trafficking. The kids were taken and she was forced to remain in Mexico. Her experience there was horrific, including being kidnapped. The kids had a terrible foster placement in New York. Ultimately she got legal help, was admitted as an asylum seeker and the family was reunited here last year. They have been embraced by the Welcoming Network, and she has made a lot of progress in supporting her family.
Sylvia Patience learned Spanish when she lived in Mexico for several years in her early twenties. She is a nurse practitioner and midwife, retired. She heard about the Welcoming Network last year and went to a meeting. From there she began volunteering. Elizabeth’s family is the second she has worked with. Because of her background in health care, her function on Team Elizabeth has been to help the family obtain the health resources they desperately need.
Paul Johnston: Retired sociologist, taught at Yale & Berkeley. Worked with immigrant communities on Central Coast since he was a UFW organizer 52 years ago. Also former Executive Director of Monterey Bay Central Labor Council. He helped some parishioners of Star of the Sea church and others in that neighborhood launch the Welcome three years ago.
Many people are anguished by the breakdown of the U.S. immigration system and the terrible stories emanating from our southern border with Mexico: asylum- seekers being turned away with no chance to present their cases; immigrants camped out at the border who become the prey of extremely violent and ruthless gangs; thousands of immigrants locked up in privately-run detention facilities in deplorable conditions; and others, including minors, who die while attempting to cross the desert.
In Santa Cruz in 2019, that anguish led to the formation of the Santa Cruz Welcoming Network. The Network’s belief is that if local folks were offered the opportunity to do something to help in response to this crisis, they would step forward and do so. And that is in fact what has happened.
The Santa Cruz Welcoming Network sees the same dignity and humanity in every person and helps ensure decent, safe circumstances for asylum-seekers and refugees, because all persons have the right to seek freedom from violence, fear and repression.
For more information or to participate: https://www.santacruzwelcomingnetwork.com/