Each month, IFCLA hosts a General Meeting to share staff updates and progress from working groups, as well as opportunities for volunteers to deepen their involvement. In April, we also added a special open house at the new office space, 5021 Adkins, Room 122, on the campus of St. John the Baptist in South City.
About a dozen attended to see the new IFCLA office, share experiences of immigration advocacy throughout their lifetimes, and to investigate current opportunities for involvement. Staff, board, and volunteers shared key updates from:
The Communications working group, which is in the process of drafting strategy and updating the website.
The St. Louis Coalition for Sanctuary working group. Some of the attendees remarked that participating in educational programming and volunteering, particularly related to the vecino program at Christ Church UCC, is an opportunity for them to understand and take action to keep from despairing in the current political climate. In particular, a volunteer, Judy, brought up the Vecino program, a project of Christ Church UCC where individuals keep watch for Immigration Customs and Enforcement at Christ Church UCC in Maplewood where Alex Garcia is living in Sanctuary. Vecinos (meaning neighbor in spanish) take a shift at the church, acting as a first responder in case ICE does arrive on-site, acting as witnesses and notifying key individuals. Judy Williamson said of participating in the program, “One of the advantages is that you have a community of vecinos; it is a joy for me. I was feeling hopeless because of the rhetoric against immigrants I am seeing in the U.S. right now, and participating has helped me deal with that.” For Judy, understanding that others in the U.S. do care about individuals from other countries was of particular importance.
The group also discussed upcoming event planning, including speakers and the Dinner Diálogos series (please see the website’s events page for additional details). The group shared ideas for audiences for IFCLA’s Immigration 101 courses, which are a four-hour courses on the history of intervention in Latin America, the causes of migration to the United States, and the immigration system. Attendees were also invited to submit names for IFCLA’s Advisory Committee, which met on Saturday, April 28, and is currently seeking additional members.
The meeting ended with time for everyone to continue conversation and share in the food and drink present.