We had some good news, yesterday.
Back in September, two of the guys from our Migrant Ministry were picked up by immigration and detained. The first, Capo, was awakened at one in the morning and taken from the house where he was staying. The second, a young man of 19, was part of a traffic stop about a week later. 11 people were in a van, and our young friend was driving. There is no way for undocumented people to get a driver’s license in New York State, so he was ticketed for driving without one, as well as driving a vehicle with a lapsed registration. Both of those are misdemeanors, and would give him a criminal record.
Last month both men had their first appearances in immigration court, and the young man had a first appearance in a local town court for the traffic violations. He was given time to contact the public defender, and we were to come back this week.(Imagine how scary this is, being a teenager in a foreign country, working hard, doing the best you can, knowing little of the language, and having to go to court with the possibility of jail, when all you’re trying to do is survive).
So, yesterday morning I got up early and drove out to get the guys, and we headed to the town court for his appearance before driving on to Buffalo for their bi-weekly check in. Capo napped in the car while we went in and waited, and waited. Finally we got to talk to the public defender. (The court provided an interpreter). And then a miracle occurred. After talking with the prosecuting attorney, the man came back with a reduced charge: a parking violation, no criminal record, no jail time. Just a fine, which we paid. (He paid most of it himself, and St Romero’s covered the rest).
There were two things that probably influenced this, we were told in Buffalo, later. One was that at this point, the only likely outcomes for him are deportation or voluntary departure, so the local courts often let things go. The other is that I was with him. Having his pastor along says he’s a person of good character, with stable relationships in the community. And you were with him, too, with your prayers and donations and words of support that help keep this ministry going. We made a difference, together.
After that, the three of us went on to Buffalo, after stopping for gas and coffee. It is still a cause for celebration when I get there without getting lost. Every other week we go for a ten minute meeting. This time we learned that there is a push on nationally for everyone that’s in the system like they are to get passports. So, unless the Mexican Consulate is coming to this area some time soon, we’ll be making a trip to New York City. “How far is it to New York?” Capo asked. “About five hours,” the man answered. “Oh!” Capo said, turning to me. “So you should be able to get there in twenty hours!”
More coffee, then the drive home. We noticed the brown trees, and realized that soon they will be turning green. We’ve driven through fall and winter, and now the spring. Nobody had money for lunch, so we went home and had eggs, beans and tortillas in the little house that does look better now that it’s got some fresh paint. Getting buggy with the warmer weather, and the furnace is still awful, but it’s a pleasanter place to be.
Thank you for all you have done to help us. Your prayers and donations (this week someone is giving a much-needed bed and a bookshelf, thank you, thank you!) and moral support are so needed, and so valued. As Mother Teresa said, what we do is just a drop in the ocean; but if that drop were not in the ocean, it would be missed.
Still wanted: a house for this ministry. I’m already gathering books for the library.
March 24 will be the 32nd anniversary of the assassination of Monsenor Romero. Shall we mark it with a pot luck lunch? – after Mass on Sunday, March 25. We do miss our after-Mass breakfast. It would be lovely to have some music that day, too, if anyone would like to volunteer.
Blessings on your Lent! May it be a time of growth and new life for you.
And the crocuses are blooming!
Love and light to all
“ A stuttering prophet will be the voice of God, a barren old lady will become the mother of a nation, a shepherd boy will become their king, and a homeless baby will lead them home.”
- Shane Claiborne, “Jesus for President”
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620