The difficult legal process faced by new immigrants in the United States and the restrictions they have encountered in New York shelters, where there are couples who have been separated because they are not married or cannot prove it, has generated a wave of marriages that some do not they contemplated
Lutheran and Episcopal priests, known for their activism from churches that are part of the New Sanctuary Movement, are supporting them with a view to ending this separation and facilitating the immigration process.
“What worries me the most and must be protected is the family,” Father Fabián Arias, from the San Pedro Lutheran Church in Midtown, Manhattan, told EFE, who today officiated at the wedding of Nathalie Quintana and Yonaiker Brujo, who had lived together seven years in his native Venezuela, the country from which most of those who have arrived in New York come, most of them on buses sent by the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott.
Nathalie, her 13-year-old son (she left three in Venezuela) and Yonaiker, along with two other relatives, crossed the US-Mexico border on October 2, and ended up in New York, like thousands of other Venezuelans hoping to find in the Big Apple opportunities to start your life again.
“TO BE WELL BEFORE GOD”
“We were going to do it in Venezuela (get married) but we had to leave,” Yonaiker told EFE after the simple ceremony officiated by Arias in a small church office, to which Nathalie adds: “we wanted to be right before God.”
Nathalie explains that fear for their lives led them to leave the country, after three of her brothers lost their lives the same day during one of the many demonstrations against the government of Nicolás Maduro that took place in 2017 and left a total of 120 dead.
Her other brother, who managed to save her life during the protest, left the country with his 8-year-old girl since his wife died of leukemia five years ago, without being able to receive the bone marrow transplant she needed. .
Although the ceremony does not have legal validity until the civil procedure is done with the city, that does not prevent them from requesting asylum as a family. “Some Immigration agents accept it (marriage), others do not” clarifies the Argentine priest, who also, prior to the ceremony, answered the couple’s doubts about the immigration process and where to get the help they need.
The couple, street vendors in Venezuela, still do not have the card granted by the city or other identity documents or the budget to pay for the migration process.
GOING TO MARRY AT THE BORDER
These marriages so that immigrants are not separated when entering the US and can present the document when requesting asylum as a family is a task that Arias frequently does from the Tijuana region, on the border with Mexico, where he travels at least once a year for that purpose and give them a certificate.
“The document serves not only to be together in shelters but for other processes,” she says.
The Church of San Pedro and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Brooklyn are among a hundred temples, which include mosques and synagogues, that have worked for a long time helping immigrants.
The work they do now with the newcomers, to whom in addition to food and clothing they have given shelter, is a continuation of that activism that was crucial during the pandemic, the well-known activist and Lutheran priest Juan Carlos Ruiz from the church told EFE. Buen Pastor in Brooklyn, which has married some 20 couples, including Colombians Lucía and Ricardo, after ten years of living together and parents of an eight-year-old girl.
“By getting married they protect each other before the law (by asking for asylum as a couple). It is a case with more weight before the judge than independently, ”says the Mexican.
The family arrived in New York on July 23 and since then they have been in an apartment in the city’s shelter system while waiting to apply for asylum, after receiving death threats in their country.
“We had considered getting married in the future, not so quickly,” says Lucía as if wanting to justify the simplicity of a ceremony without a suit or rings.
Posted on October 27, 2022