April 6, 2018
Just a short time ago, 28-year old Maria escaped horrific gender-based violence in Guatemala. But today, thanks in large part to your support, her life has taken a remarkable turn. With EBSC’s help, Maria obtained legal protection, started learning English, and found a job. With newfound confidence, she is now reaching out to other indigenous Guatemalan women to provide support.
“I fled violence to seek safety in the United States,” Maria says. “EBSC helped me to understand my rights – and now I want to help others.”
I wanted you to hear Maria’s story because of your personal role in making this change possible. Maria represents the beginning of an unfolding story of countless women, men, and children who receive help from EBSC and then pass their knowledge and support on to others in an ongoing ripple effect.
I am writing now to ask for your support and remind you that there is a direct connection between your decision to donate to EBSC and our ability to have a life-changing impact on even more people like Maria.
We hope you will read the enclosed overview of EBSC’s work with survivors of gender-based violence to learn more about the challenges faced by women and girls who participate in our programs.
As the spring season approaches, EBSC has been planting and watering seeds of hope and new life. Our programs provide a lifeline for people fleeing persecution and violence, helping them attain safety and start to rebuild their lives.
Because of your generosity, every year, EBSC is able to reach 20,000 people seeking information, legal services, and social support. To date, we have helped 3,455 people achieve political asylum, with a 97% success rate.
We continue to face enormous obstacles -- when the administration began to dismantle Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in late 2017, the number of daily visitors to our Walk-in Legal Clinic doubled. With your support, we hired paralegals, increased screenings to serve over 650 TPS holders, and launched an organizing project to train TPS families to advocate for permanent residency. We continue to hold Know Your Rights trainings and serve dozens of DACA beneficiaries every week.
As we move into spring and the flowers begin to bloom, so do the fruits of our work to create sanctuary. Despite disheartening attacks on immigration policy, we have seen remarkable signs of resistance and resilience:
- With support from local TPS coalitions, the cities of San Francisco, Richmond, Berkeley and Oakland passed resolutions to extend permanent residency to TPS holders.
- In February 2018, the California Assembly Judiciary Committee passed House Resolution (HR) 69 to call on the President “to find a legislative solution to establish permanent legal resident status for Salvadorans who were granted TPS.”
- A suit to stop deportation was filed in federal court on March 12th with plaintiffs from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Sudan, each married to a documented spouse with US-born children.
You are a part of this work, and we are deeply grateful for your solidarity.
We hope you will join us for our Spring Reception on Saturday, May 12th from 4-6 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley to celebrate our Sanctuary Community, honor immigration champions, and enjoy appetizers and wonderful music. More details will be forthcoming via email and Facebook in the coming weeks.
We are living in the midst of uncertainty and are called to be proactive in supporting Dreamers, TPS holders, and others who are fighting for safety and justice. But sustaining our programs while broadening our outreach to community members under attack can’t happen without more resources. So we are turning to trusted friends like you. Your personal support in as generous an amount as you can give will help fund our ongoing programs and will allow us to be responsive to emergencies and increasing needs.
And, as you know, we are still looking for new office space that will allow us to continue to provide life-saving services to immigrants and refugees – and ensure our long-term sustainability as an organization. Please contact us if you have ideas for office space that will keep EBSC in Berkeley or the East Bay for many years to come.
We rely on individual contributions to facilitate our work, and we hope you will make a personally significant donation to East Bay Sanctuary Covenant this spring.
With gratitude and in peace,
Sister Maureen Duignan and EBSC Staff and Board
P.S. Many companies and organizations match employee donations. Asking your employer to match your donation can double your impact!
EBSC is an interfaith coalition of diverse congregations, secular groups, and individuals with a mission to provide protection, advocacy and support to refugee-immigrants fleeing violence and persecution.