Krista Dutt reading letter
Photo/Jim Parker

Krista Dutt reads a moving letter she received from a detained immigrant whose case she observed in a Chicago area courtroom. Dutt is part of an immigration court watching program with MCC partner Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants.

“Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” Isaiah 1:17 NRSV

Like so many immigrants, Juan* (name changed for security reasons) felt like he was alone as he faced the immigration judge. But he wasn’t – thanks to a court watching program through MCC partner Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants. When he found out someone was there with him, Juan wrote to say he was touched.

Krista Dutt, MCC Great Lakes Program Coordinator based in Chicago, was the court watcher at Juan’s hearing. As she does for each person who requests a court watcher, she sent Juan a note saying,

“You are not alone. I was at court to be present with you. Know that you are not forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with you.”

Recently, Dutt received a touching letter from Juan in response to the card he received. “’I was in court today. You are not alone’…that really touched my heart,” he wrote. The power of being present with someone in their time of need is often underestimated. When Juan thought he was alone, Krista was present on his behalf.

The backstory of undocumented immigrants is often heartbreaking. Juan wrote he was brought to the U.S. at the age of nine, and his whole family is living in the United States. “I really don’t have no one in Mexico,” he wrote. “I don’t know how I would live there.” Family separation happens all too often under the current immigration system. Juan daydreams of life outside of detention. He writes he would love to get a coffee and reflect on his time in detention.

Once a month for the past year and a half, Dutt enters a court room to observe proceedings and stand in solidarity with the detained immigrants. She can be present for deportation, bail or continuance hearings. Dutt is often the only person present in the courtroom during these hearings who isn’t paid by the court.

Many may wonder what they can do as a response. It is easy to become overwhelmed and paralyzed when the problem is as complex and broken as the current immigration system. The following options are available if you wish stand in solidarity with migrants and undocumented immigrants, showing them that they are not alone.

Advocate: Contact your elected officials to express your desire for more humane immigration policies.

Give: Donate money to MCC for ongoing work with issues surrounding immigration.

Learn: Participate in an MCC Borderlands learning tour designed to bring awareness about the increasing migrant deaths, militarization, environmental degradation, effects on habitat and effects on sister communities by the border wall along the Mexico/U.S. Borderlands.

Or sign up for the MCC Learning Tour to Guatemala and Honduras on November 7-17 where you can dig deeper to understand and better respond to the issues around migration. Why are so many women and children in Central America leaving their homes? Learn from our partners about the realities of migration in this region. 

Join an MCC sponsored immigration law training designed to provide immigration case workers employed at not-for-profit agencies the foundation to gain accreditation from the Board of Immigration Appeals (DOJ) and to practice before the USCIS, immigration judges and the DOJ.

Pray: Pray for the migrants who made the difficult choice to leave their home communities in the hope of a better life. Lift up the detained immigrants as they wait in detention to hear whether or not they will be deported. Pray for the border portal agents, that they execute their job justly and humanely.

Serve: Become an immigration court watcher through the Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants.   

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