Anna Campbell shares with us her recent trip to Texas. Anna is National Network Coordinator for Access to Justice, LIRS’s unit that promotes access to the justice system, immigration benefits, and legal protection to immigrants and refugees, with particular attention to the most vulnerable, such as asylum seekers, torture survivors and those in immigration detention.
Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Texas to tour around and talk with various service providers that are assisting individuals being released from immigration detention. Due to the lack of legal and social services available throughout the nation, particularly geared toward meeting the needs of migrant populations, I was interested to hear how organizations in Texas provide for their communities.
First I was in Austin, then San Antonio and finally Harlingen and San Benito. All of my visits and discussions were incredible, and to all of the people I met – thank you! I truly appreciate your time in entertaining my curiosity! And a HUGE thank you to all of the migrants who so graciously welcomed me into their homes to share a bit of their lives with me. Your insight, expertise, experiences and courage are more than admirable. If any of you want to be in touch or continue sharing your story – please contact LIRS!
One short, insightful exchange that stands out to me occurred during my visit with Casa Marianella. This home has been around for 25 years and provides emergency and transitional housing to immigrants in the Austin area. Jennifer Long, the Executive Director, was walking a small group of us around and describing the home when she paused to reflect on what an amazing place Casa Marianella truly is – for Austin, for Texas and for the United States.
Jennifer noted how incredible the home is, where people of different races, ethnicities, religions, ages, and languages can live in peace. More than 30 people from all parts of the world living together, supporting one another and dedicated to making the best lives they possibly can in the United States…without hurting each other, fighting or disrespecting one another based on where they were born.
Another man in the group, Bart Smith from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, simply said, “Yea, that’s what some call the Kingdom of God.” He said it so quickly, with no reservation or hesitance. It was striking and so true. It’s great that Casa Marianella exists and people are able to get their feet on the ground while starting anew in the United States, while at the same time so sad that people on the outside looking in are shocked by the fact it can happen. People from all different backgrounds can live together in peace. As they say in Baltimore – Believe, hon.