From The Rev. Dr. Arlene K. Nehring, pastor at Eden UCC: We have a new asylum seeker in our midst. Her name is Rihana. She is a friend of the family we are supporting at Eden UCC in Hayward.
Rihana is a 21 year old transgender woman who is a native of Chinandega, Nicaragua. She came to the US on April 11, 2019 seeking asylum after having been the victim of a hate crime in her home country. Rihana was beaten by five men, her throat was slit with a broken bottle, and she was left for dead in a rural area. She was taken to a regional hospital where she remained in a coma for two days, and continued to be treated for another 7 days. (She has letters from a clinical psychologist and photos taken at a hospital in Nicaragua documenting her trauma.) After she recovered enough from her injuries to travel, Rihana made her way to the US. She crossed the border into Arizona and was taken into custody by ICE on April 11, 2019. She appeared in immigration court in detention. The judge ruled that she has “a credible fear” and granted her humanitarian parole provided that she pay a $10,000 bond. We will seek legal aid to transfer her immigration case to the SF court. We were able to negotiate the bail down to $1500 and find a church in NYC (Park Avenue Christian Church) that would put up the bond money. Rihana was released 12 hours later at the PHX bus station, where two advocates who are friends of a friend of mine (a pastor who is also an asylee) picked her up, took her to an emergency shelter, and cared for her since early last Tuesday morning. A member of my church donated money to cover air fare for Rihanna. She is flying to Oakland tonight.
Collaborators: Pastor Arlene Nehring & Stephanie Spencer, and Pastor Marvin Lance Wiser & Yuliana Wiser Leon (EUCC, Hayward), Pastor Rhina Ramos (Ministerio Latinx, Oakland), Pastors Eric Sherlock and Todd Adkins-Whitley (Danville Congregational Church UCC), and Pastor Laura Rose (First Congregational Church Alameda.)
Institutional Partners: Eden United Church of Christ, Hayward, Danville Congregational Church UCC, and First Congregational UCC Alameda.
- Hospitable housing in the Bay Area, i.e., use of a guest room with kitchen and bathroom privileges, or a room in a guest house. The host(s) need not be fluent Spanish speakers, but they do need to be LGBT friendly folks.
- Cash and/or in-kind help with food, clothing, telephone, transportation
- Coaching to acquire healthcare benefits and services (Eden Church can provide coaching for new volunteers as needed)
- Legal aid (Pastor Rhina, Pastor Marvin, and Pastor Arlene have begun a search for legal representation). If pro bono counsel can be found, funds will be needed to cover various application fees.
- Court accompaniment (Eden Church will take the lead, but we need bodies to pack the court when she is required to appear.)
- Cultural navigation support (We can train trainers.)
Immigration ministry is intense. None of us can do this alone. I recommend reflecting on what we CAN do, rather than what we can NOT do—always mindful that through God all things are possible.
Please let me know if you would like to discuss this invitation.
The Rev. Dr. Arlene K. Nehring
Eden United Church of Christ 510-582-9533