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Cal-Pac Leaders Advocate for Asylum-Seekers at Interfaith Gathering

Over 40 interfaith clergy and non-profits gathered to share about their work supporting asylum seekers on Friday, February 9.  In collaboration with Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), the Presbytery of the Pacific held the Interfaith Gathering at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral.

In the past year, Los Angeles has witnessed a notable increase in asylum seekers via buses from Texas, Border Areas, and the Desert Annex Immigration Center at Adelanto, with over two dozen busloads from Texas arriving in our community. The most recent arrival brought forty-eight individuals, including children and teenagers, from Venezuela, Mexico, Honduras, and Peru. Responding to this critical situation, the LA Welcomes Collective and local non-profits have taken proactive measures to provide essential support, including daily necessities and legal advice. CLUE, Presbytery of the Pacific, and the interfaith community have played a pivotal role in offering overnight hospitality and various supportive services for migrants who don’t have family or sponsors to receive them.

From Cal-Pac, Rev. David Farley, Josh Lopez-Reyes, Rev. Dr. Denyse Barnes, and Rev. Dr. Joel Hortiales attended the gathering. Rev. Dr. Hortiales, Director of Hispanic/Latino Ministries and Border Concerns, shared about the work of Cal-Pac on both sides of the border through support for shelters in Mexicali and Tijuana and working with legal organizations on the California side.  Rev. Dr. Barnes, Director of Justice & Compassion Essential Ministry Teams, focused on shelter work within the Cal-Pac region, which includes providing housing and resources to asylum seekers coming across the border and who are bussed in from other states. She spoke about the need for sustainable sources of funding, as FEMA grants are not available for work in Los Angeles as it is not considered a border city. Barnes also shared the importance of electing officials who are committed to justice work, especially as global migration has become politicized and the life or death stakes are forgotten.

The Interfaith Gathering built on a legacy of compassion and justice as a unique opportunity to come together and explore how we, as a diverse and inspiring interfaith community, can actively participate in the vital work of the LA Welcomes Collective, responding to the urgent needs of newly arrived asylum-seeking migrants via Texas Buses. 

The gathering was also a powerful platform for networking and collaboration, enriching the dialogue and contributing significantly to collective efforts to create a more just and compassionate society. Rev. Dr. Barnes said that immediate needs are “more shelters and more supplies – backpacks for kids and toiletries.  We need people to lobby their elected officials to fight for government funding for those doing the work and to change legislation so that the asylum seeker process is more equitable.” To express interest in donations or other assistance, please contact Rev. Dr. Barnes at