AMMPARO Migrant Children

“Dios es nuestro amparo y fortaleza,” (“God is our refuge and strength,”) – Psalm 46:1

AMMPARO is a holistic, whole church commitment by the ELCA, as a church in the world, to accompany children today and in the future.

In 2017 Good Shepherd became an AMMPARO Welcoming Congregation, the first designated as such in the Northeast Iowa Synod.  The congregation’s commitment to supporting migrants is long-standing, beginning with active assistance for migrants from southeast Asia in the 1970’s.

6 Minute Video Link from the ELCA about AMMPARO

AMMPARO is an ELCA program serving young people from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, countries in Central America’s “Northern Triangle”, with some of the highest murder and violence rates in the world. AMMPARO stands for Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation, and Opportunities. In Spanish, the word “amparo” means protection, refuge, or shelter.

Grant Received:  In 2017 Good Shepherd received one of the ELCA ‘s $5,000 grants to Welcoming Congregations for 2018. The grant, developed in consultation with other local immigration advocacy programs such as Path to Citizenship and the Northeast Iowa Peace and Justice Center, provides funds to help cover medical, dental, and mental health costs for young people in Northeast Iowa who are applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. SIJS creates a legal path to a green card and eventual citizenship for youth abused or abandoned by their parents, who seek protection from violence in the U.S.

Part of the SIJS application process is a thorough and specialized immigration physical, which can cost $1,000 or more. Normally, the young person must cover this expense, a serious hardship for someone without legal permission to work. Many of the Central American youth have not had regular dental care and are experiencing serious dental problems. Others experienced severe trauma during their weeks or months traveling north and need counseling for the aftermath of this trauma. The need for financial resources to help with these expenses is clear, and there are already requests for financial assistance from the grant.

Sunday School Lenten Project:  Luckily, Good Shepherd’s Sunday School chose the AMMPARO program as their 2018 Lenten project, and their goal to raise an additional $2,000, with the help of the Good Shepherd congregation, was achieved.  

Coordinators:  Marty Steele and Pastor Marion Pruitt-Jefferson are the AMMPARO coordinators at Good Shepherd, and coordinate closely with the Social Concerns Committee at Good Shepherd and other local immigration advocacy groups.