Immigration reform groups hold prayer service at state capitol

7/15/2008

About 50 people gathered on the steps of the Mississippi state Capitol in June to pray for immigration reform.

The prayer service was sponsored by El Pueblo and Catholic Charities Jackson. 

Leading the group were Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church, Monsignor Elvin Sunds of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson and the Rev. Thomas Jenkins of New Horizons Ministries of Jackson. 

Ward opened the service with a call to Biblical hospitality, stressing the need for hope and welcome. Declaring that hospitality is best demonstrated Jesus Christ, she exhorted those present to “be a light in our communities for all those who walk in darkness … be a light that allows undocumented immigrants to step out of the shadows and into the radiance of new life. Let our call to hospitality break down the barriers that keep families separated by borders and unjust legislation.”

Meanwhile, El Pueblo, an immigrant advocacy organization, has been awarded a $45,000 grant by the Mississippi Bar Foundation. Grants totaling $3 million have been awarded this year through the Mississippi Interest on Lawyers Trust Account Program.

“We are extremely grateful to the Mississippi Supreme Court and to the Mississippi Bar foundation for their support of our program,” said the Rev. Sally Bevill, executive director of El Pueblo. “This grant will ensure that our immigration legal services will continue through the next fiscal year. These funds make it possible to provide low-cost, high quality, professional immigration legal services to immigrants in the Biloxi area. Our program helps those immigrants to make their way along the often confusing and complicated paths to legal status, lawful permanent residency and citizenship.”

The Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program was established by order of the Mississippi Supreme Court as a source of funding to provide legal aid to the poor, to provide law related public education programs to the public and to improve the administration of justice.

El Pueblo aids immigrants on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It runs programs of advocacy and direct service, including English as a second language classes, a women’s empowerment group, art and cultural preservation activities, community education meetings and legal services. Immigration Legal Services of El Pueblo is staffed by the only two Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representatives currently authorized to practice in Mississippi.

El Pueblo is located on Judge Sekul Avenue in Biloxi. The organization can be reached by phone at 228-436-3986 or e-mail at info@elpueblo-ms.org.