Asylum Seeker Hosting Program Meeting, 11/7/19

People Present:  Diane Schwabe, Sarah Cox, Dick Knapp, Sharon BarlowPalm, Elizabeth Greene, Gary Wyke, Wanda Jennings, Bryan Jennings, Sue Langley, Diana Borrero-Lowe, Joan Williams, Cathy Sandstrom, Betty Van Gheluwe

Action Items from this Meeting:

  1. Sue, Cathy and Betty will complete the BUUF Special Appeal Auction application by Jan. 5th
  2. Sarah, Sue and Diane will reach out to mental health professionals to try to find one who could discuss with host families how to recognize trauma symptoms and recommend steps to take
  3. Wanda will contact the people who responded to the survey that they would like to pledge money to the Asylum Seeker Hosting Program.  She will thank them for their pledge and let them know we will start collecting the pledges when the asylum seeker hosting family arrives.
  4. Participate in the Nov. 9th Italian Fundraising Dinner.


  • The team participated on a Zoom call with Dottie Mathews, UU Service Committee liaison. Following are responses to the questions from team members.
    • Since the Administration’s Executive Order there is no longer a back log of people seeking asylum in detention who need a sponsor.  There are a few asylum seekers being allowed through the border each day.  Most of the asylum seekers are camping on the Mexico side of the border.  Congregational matches are still occurring, but it will take longer than it did this summer.  We are most likely to be matched with a transgender person or small family.
    • The time it takes for the asylum seeker application process to start depends on how verifiable the case is and on the approach of the legal team.
    • If an asylum seeker application is denied, the asylum seeker will be deported if they don’t go into sanctuary or underground. 
    • If an asylum seeker doesn’t follow through with the court directions, the sponsor should notify the attorney and follow their advice.  The sponsor is not legally responsible for the asylum seeker not following court directives.
    • It is very hard on asylum seekers to not be able to work while waiting for their work permit.  Some asylum seekers have stayed engaged by learning English, volunteering or participating in other activities like gardening. As far as working for cash, the asylum seeker’s attorney should be consulted for direction before doing so.  Although it is prohibited, some judges have overlooked this during the application process.
    • Everybody is different so it is hard to say how traumatized the asylum seeker that is matched with our congregation may be.  Counselors should be available in case the asylum seeker feels that counseling would be helpful.
    • Typically, asylum seekers have not received any counseling in detention before coming to the host family.
    • As far as what type of counseling is needed, this should be assessed once the asylum seeker arrives.
    • BUUF will probably be notified a few weeks before an asylum seeker arrives.
    • If the asylum seeker who comes to Boise needs to stay in detention longer, we can keep in contact with the asylum seeker through phone calls and put money in their commissary account for needed incidentals while in detention. Basically just letting them know that they have support outside of detention is important.
    • It is rare that an asylum seeker has restrictions on flying or other forms of travel.  Upon leaving detention, the asylum seeker is given a packet of paperwork so they will have necessary identification.
    • Asylum seekers travel to their host families in numerous ways.  It is common to travel by bus because of the cost of other travel.  It is good if the asylum seeker can be accompanied on their travel because of the difficulty in navigating the transportation system when new to our county.  – If the local lawyer would like a preliminary consult with the asylum seeker before they come to Boise, they will try to work this out.  Sometimes time constraints may be an issue in an emergency situation.
    • The average literacy of an asylum seeker from the southern border is that they are often able to read and write Spanish but know very little English.  Even those whose primary language is not Spanish are likely to know some.   Dottie didn’t know the average education level of asylum seekers. A team member (Sarah) had the experience that many of the immigrants she worked with were at a 3rd or 4th grade education level. 
    • If a transgender person is matched with a host family in Boise medical therapy such as hormone therapy will be needed.
    • Most sponsors will give the asylum seeker a set amount of money to spend on their personal expenses. 
    • Children who are asylum seekers do attend school while they are with the host families.
    • If an asylum seeker is able to get a driver license is on a state by state basis.
  • The Fundraising Team reported the following:
    • The Asylum Seeker Kick Off and Fundraising Italian Dinner and Dessert Auction is this Saturday Nov. 9th.  They are expecting between 80 and 90 people to attend.  Come, bring a dessert for the auction and have a fun time! 
    • To date there has been $8567 collected for the Asylum Seeker Hosting Program.
    • Wanda will contact the people who pledged during the Asylum Seeker Hosting Program Survey to thank them for their pledge and let them know that once the family is here we will begin collecting the pledge money.
    • Sue, Cathy and Betty will work on completing the BUUF Special Appeal Auction application.
    • Rev. Sara was contacted this week by the UU grant funding representative about the grant proposal that BUUF submitted.  The representative was excited and receptive about the Asylum Seeker Hosting Program.  The final decisions about the grant funding will be made later this month.
  • The Congregational Accompaniment Project for Asylum Seekers – Handbook for Congregations that Dottie developed for UU congregations hosting asylum seekers has been distributed via email.  If you need to have it sent again for your files or need a hard copy let Cathy or Betty know.
  • The need for trauma education for host families was discussed.  Sarah, Sue and Diane will check with people they know to see how to achieve this.
  • Legal representation is still being worked on.  We have a couple leads with Kathy Railsback agreeing to have the school she works with do the initial work up.  Immigration Justice Idaho will do a consult on the family to see if they are able to take the case through the process for a fee.
  • Since a match may take some time, it was decided to not meet again until after the holidays.  If a match occurs before that time everyone will be notified.