Asylum Seeker Hosting Program Meeting, 1/29/20

People Present:  Diane Schwabe, Diana Borrero-Lowe, Cathy Sandstrom, Charles Palm, Sharon Barlow, Scott Smith, Regina Montenegro, Becky Groff, Wanda Jennings, Alan Herzfeld, Blanca Gerard, Elizabeth Greene, Toni Corley, Gary Wyke, Sarah Cox, Dick Knapp, Rev. Sara LaWall, Betty Van Gheluwe

Action Items from this Meeting:

  1. Rev. Sara will send an email communicating Romel’s situation to the congregation
  2. Rev. Sara will announce at Sunday services what is currently happening with Romel’s situation
  3. Core team members will attend the Feb. 2, 2020 Q/A Sessions after Sunday services


  • Cathy opened the meeting with a reading. Introductions were made. In light of the events last week [our asylee’s re-incarceration], the team agreed to change the agenda to take as much time as needed on the 1st item “Romel’s experiences since coming to Boise”.
  • Since Romel arrived last month he has been actively engaged in the community doing the following: 
    • Started attending the clinic to take care of health care needs
    • Started going to the dentist taking care of his dental needs; was referred to an orthodontist
    • Had conversations with two different legal groups and signed a contract with the Wilner O’Reilly Immigration Firm here in Boise.  His lawyers are JJ Despain and Taylor Kenck. This firm is working pro bono for Romel thanks to Alan’s contacts.
    • Started taking English Language Classes at the Learning Lab two times a week
    • Started volunteering at the Corpus Christi House
    • Started getting oriented to his surroundings by means of a bike that Cathy and Scott gave him
    • Through the use of a donated tablet and phone, Romel has stayed in close contact with his family (mother, brother and sister) in Honduras
    • Has been on numerous outings with people from the congregation
    • Has attended a meeting of the Pride Ministry

      All seemed to be going well as far as Romel adjusting to the community and working on his asylum case until the middle of last week.  We received notification that the government wanted to rescind Romel’s release from detention on bond.  On Friday last week the government came to Diana’s home and arrested Romel and took him to detention at the Jefferson county jail.  He is in transit to the Northwest Regional Detention center in Tacoma, where he will arrive this  Friday. There he will have a Master hearing, not yet scheduled.  Romel’s lawyer in Boise will be representing him at this hearing and request another bond hearing.  The Master Hearing is for the judge in Tacoma to review what has occurred to date. 

      The government rescinded Romel’s release on bond because of a police complaint that was filed against him in Honduras.  After this compliant occurred, Romel went to the police department and resolved it which cleared the complaint.  We have acquired official documentation from Honduras that says he does not have a criminal record in Honduras.  We are also working on obtaining documentation from the Honduras police that outlines what happened when the complaint was lodged.

      What is happening to Romel is very disheartening, but we will continue to support him in his asylum process whether he is in Boise or in detention.  We do hope that the complaint against Romel can be cleared up with the documents from Honduras and the judge will allow another bond hearing.  If Romel does receive release on bond again then he will return to Boise while seeking asylum.  If a bond is not granted then Romel will continue his asylum process while in detention. 
  • Questions from the core team members were responded to.
  • Discussion occurred on the best way to communicate Romel’s status to the rest of the congregation.  The following was decided:
    • Rev. Sara will send an email explaining the situation to the congregation Rev. Sara will discuss it during this Sunday services
    • To answer questions from the congregation there will be Q/A sessions with members from the core team after each service this Sunday. 
    • The group emphasized that when talking with the congregation we need to emphasize the hope that the Core Team has that this will work out for Romel and that local ICE has been helpful to us throughout this process.
  • The Asylum Seeker Hosting Program was chosen to be the Special Appeal at the Auction this year.  With the most recent changes in Romel’s status the team decided that it would be best to withdraw from being a recipient of the Special Appeal.  [The Board and Auction Team discussed this and decided to continue to be the Special Appeal.]
  • The team was able to see the quilt that Joan Williams made as a fundraiser for the Asylum Seeker Hosting Program.  It is absolutely gorgeous!  Thank you Joan!!!! The fundraising team would like suggestions on how to optimally fundraise with it.
  • A future meeting was not scheduled rather we will send out a time scheduling the next meeting, probably in 4-6 weeks.  
  • The meeting closed with Rev. Sara guiding us through the stone ceremony, Cathy providing us with a reading and the chalice being extinguished.