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A radical welcome

By K.T. Sancken

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. —Matthew 25:35


ike most days in San Antonio, it’s hot and sticky. Rosemarie Doucette is wearing her cleri-

cal collar, and her shirt is soaked in sweat and tears. She’s just come from the Greyhound bus station where she prayed over a Spanish-speaking immigrant family for safe travel. She is now standing in the front yard of a large mint-green house with white columns. “Te church, as a public witness,

is called to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry and clothe the


naked. Here they are,” she said, opening the door of a minivan. A Guatemalan woman and her chil- dren shyly get out of the van and are escorted inside the safe house. Doucette volunteers with the

Interfaith Welcome Coalition, a faith-based nonprofit in San Anto- nio formed last year to support the overwhelming surge of migrant children and young families com- ing over the United States’ southern border in the last two years.

More are coming to the U.S. According to Lutheran Immigra- tion and Refugee Service, 68,000 children were taken into custody last year coming into the U.S. Tat’s up from 19,418 in 2009. More than 75 percent of those children are from Central America—El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—where rates of violence exceed that in rec- ognized war zones. “Te stories are grizzly,” said

Janice Clayton from the Interfaith Welcome Coali- tion greets and gives a care package to immigrants in the San Antonio Greyhound bus station.

Doucette, pastor of Good News Lutheran Church in San Antonio. “One woman had been attacked with a machete in her country. Fam- ily members have been murdered or have disappeared. Kids come home from school and never see mom or dad again. Te drug dealers try to recruit the young boys because they’re expendable.” Yanira Lopez Lucas, a 41-year-old

woman from Guatemala, crossed the border near San Antonio with her children—ages 16, 14 and 5 —in May. Immediately upon entering the U.S. they surrendered to Immigra- tion and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and pleaded for asylum. Lopez Lucas made it clear that,

given the choice, she would have stayed in Guatemala with her extended family. But she didn’t think her two teenage sons would survive. “One doesn’t come [to the U.S.]

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