Asylum Seeker Accompaniment
As of July, 2020, Mission Peak has been walking alongside Sergio, an asylum seeker from Central America who is currently living in Oakland.
In 2018, facing persecution in the social and political turmoil of his home country, Sergio embarked on the dangerous journey to Mexico. He left behind his baby son and his wife, who was then expecting their second child. “This was by far the hardest thing I had ever faced, leaving my growing family behind,” he says.
Sergio attempted to settle in various locations in Mexico but was repeatedly attacked by gangs who prey on Central American migrants. Injured and fleeing one such attack, Sergio crossed the border into the US and presented himself to immigration officials, but was returned to Mexico under the infamous Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP. Eventually he successfully crossed into the US, where he was detained by ICE. While in detention, Sergio contracted COVID-19. After recovering from his illness in mid-2020, he was released from ICE custody, and a local non-profit, CALMA, was able to find him housing with a generous host in Oakland.
Meanwhile, a group from Mission Peak had been trained by the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity to form a “Nueva Esperanza Accompaniment Team” (NEAT). We were matched with Sergio once he was settled in Oakland, and we have been connecting him with local resources, including legal assistance, as he pursues his asylum case. As we continue to accompany Sergio, he has been using his command of English and technical skills to assist his fellow immigrants and advocate for them.
The team is also interested in assisting newcomers to the U.S. who may not be seeking asylum currently. For instance, we have worked to help non-English speakers obtain supplemental food assistance to replace school lunch programs suspended because of the pandemic.
If you know of immigrants facing challenges, or if you wish to help in this program, contact Don at firstname.lastname@example.org