Asylum Project Notes, 11/18/19

Minutes of meeting of November 18, 2019, of core group of Asylum Seeker Hosting program

A meeting was held on short notice due to the need to respond quickly to information about possible sponsorship of a man from Honduras who is currently in detention in Louisiana.

The meeting was called to order by Rev. Sara LaWall.  Persons in attendance included most of the chairs of the program and committees and legal and host sponsors.

The meeting was opened with the lighting of the chalice and a reading by Rev. Sara of a poem by Margaret Wheatley, about possibility.

The story of the asylum seeker was shared.

He was referred to us by Dottie Mathews through an immigration court Lawyer, who met him in detention. Cathy and Scott have had phone calls with Dottie and the lawyer who feels he has a better chance than most to be granted permission to seek asylum in the U.S.

Round table discussion of possibilities and concerns followed.

  • Possibilities mentioned:
  • He could be released prior to his final hearing
  • We could start helping him now
  • There is a UU church in nearby Shreveport Louisiana that may be able to assist.
  • He has a pretty strong case
  • He has great need and no-one to help him
  • We may be able to get the bond costs lowered
  • We may be able to raise money for the bond through resources we haven’t tapped yet, like a Go-Fund-Me account; there are various good possibilities for paying the bond.
  • We could offer him a home and a better life
  • Joan can provide him O.T. services
  • In many ways Boise is an ideal community to offer him care
  • Vibrant LGBTQ community
  • We would all benefit from sponsoring him

Concerns raised:

  • What will happen if his asylum-seeking status is rejected?
  • Challenges with effects of trauma and relating to us.
  • Amount of bond money is unexpectedly high and difficult to raise
  • The bond hearing will be in Miami, date not yet set and the lawyer wants a strong showing of support from us.
  • Can the congregation support this?
  • Cultural adjustment
  • We are hearing different things now than what we were previously told by Dottie Mathews.  Why is this so different from what we were previously told and led to believe would be happening?
  • Timing—will we get bogged down by the timing?
  • Can we maintain flexibility and be open when something new arises?  How can we maintain balance between being open to changing circumstances and planning and executing?
  • We have many concerns
  • If we don’t plan to support Romel we need to let them know as soon as possible, so they can look for another sponsor.

After discussion of these issues a motion was proposed by Scott Smith to move forward and take the next steps to begin some support of Romel. It was seconded by Wanda and passed unanimously.  If you provide any support for Romel, such as sending him a card, we need documentation of that for his court appearance.  Please send evidence to Gary Wyke at We will take the following steps:

  1. Begin writing and gathering letters of support from hosts, sponsors, committee chairs and members, community members; a sample letter is in the appendix of the Congregation Handbook that Dottie Matthews recently sent us.  Rev. Elizabeth and Gary will collate the materials.  
  2. Send commissary money to him in detention so he can make purchases including a phone card.
  3. Arrange a call with Romel and the housing host(s) and legal sponsors
  4. Research Lara and obtain more information from her.
  5. Continue to try to seek local legal services
  6. Investigate using Go Fund Me for bail bond money
  7. Activate regional UU churches in Shreveport and Miami (Rev. Sara)

The last topic for discussion at this meeting was how to improve communication.  Rev. Sara suggested we have very specific titles for emails among group members, beginning with the term Asylum Project.  She is also capable of setting up a Google drive group so anyone could weigh in.  (I hope this will happen).

The meeting was closed by Rev. Sara with a re-reading of Margaret Wheatley and extinguishing the chalice.