For migrants fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking political asylum in the United States, legal representation is essential, but often difficult to obtain. Thanks to a $35,000 grant from Catholic Extension a new program through the Kino Border Initiative in the Diocese of Tucson will help incoming asylum-seekers to find the help they so desperately need.
"This comes at a critical time, as we're just starting this program," said Father Sean Carroll, executive director of the Kino Border Initiative. "We know that when migrants who are fleeing violence have access to legal assistance, their likelihood of obtaining asylum goes up significantly, so these funds provide critical support for migrant men and women so that they can find safety here in the United States."
Retired Bishop Gerald Kicanas, vice chancellor of Catholic Extension, presented the check to Father Carroll and newly installed Tucson Bishop Edward Weisenburger. The new bishop thanked Catholic Extension for its support of the new legal fellows program and stressed how important it was for him to witness the work of KBI a mere two weeks into his episcopal ministry.
The KBI was inaugurated in January of 2009 by six organizations from the United States and Mexico: The California Province of the Society of Jesus, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist, the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus, the Diocese of Tucson and the Archdiocese of Hermosillo. Serving migrants who have been recently deported over the US-Mexico border at Nogales, Arizona, the KBI includes a soup kitchen for men and women as well as a residence for a few women. The new legal fellows program supported by Catholic Extension provides help with legal questions around immigration.
After the check presentation, five women shared their stories of fleeing violence--spending many days without food or water in the desert, being caught by US border patrol agents and confined, and of being sent back into Mexico, separated from loved ones.
At the KBI soup kitchen, two young men told their stories of how the center's support has helped them. One of them spent his entire life in the United States, having been brought there as a baby by his parents, but he had recently been deported due to a lack of legal documents. The other was from Honduras and was fleeing violence in search of a better life.
With this grant, Catholic Extension has made nearly $1.25M in 2017 funding commitments to the Catholic communities and ministries in our border region.