The Decorah Area Faith Coalition is hosting a community meal, Tuesday, Feb. 13, in the tradition of Fat Tuesday with the goal of helping neighbors who need legal assistance related to immigration.
“Raul is My Brother, A Fat Tuesday Feast” will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 302 W. Broadway, Decorah. The fundraising feast features a taco bar and a dessert buffet. The event is open to the public. Though no advance ticket is needed, organizers suggest a donation of $10 per adult and $5 per student, with children ages six and under admitted at no change.
The event is raising donations for the Immigration Legal Aid fund coordinated by Decorah United Church of Christ. Donations to the fund have been used to help Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients cover DACA renewal application fees, as well as legal expenses associated with immigration court costs. One of the goals of the fund is to keep immigrant families intact, thereby strengthening our community.
Recently, the Immigration Legal Aid fund made it possible for Raul Campos to obtain an immigration attorney within 24 hours of his detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Campos, a 20-year resident of Northeast Iowa, who was detained after a routine traffic stop on Nov. 28, has been released on bail.
“It means so much to my family to be part of the Decorah community,” said Jessica Campos, Raul’s daughter. “It is truly a place where people help each other in times of need. We’re eternally grateful for the help we’ve received through the legal aid fund, and grateful for the chance to raise funds and awareness so the fund can help keep other families together, too.”
“Northeast Iowa is a place where neighbors care for neighbors,” said Marty Steele, convener of the Decorah Area Faith Coalition. “Raul Campos is our neighbor. Through this fund, we can stand with the Campos family and other neighbors who need help navigating the legal system because of their immigration status.”
While the event will take place in a church fellowship hall and coincides with a time many Christians feast in preparation for the fasting of Lent, organizers of the gathering note that it is open to people of all faiths and backgrounds.
“Fat Tuesday certainly has appeal beyond church traditions as a time when people celebrate being together,” said Pastor Mike Blair, convener of the Decorah Area Faith Coalition and College Pastor at Luther College. “Bringing neighbors from different backgrounds around the table together, working together to build relationships in our community, is our goal. For those of us who are heading into the fasting of Lent, these words from Isaiah ring especially true: ‘Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?’”
The Decorah Area Faith Coalition is a group of people with connections to Northeast Iowa communities of faith. The group coordinates responses to needs in our communities, particularly related to immigration. Galvanized by the 2008 ICE raid in Postville, the Decorah Area Faith Coalition gathers to work and stand alongside immigrant neighbors. They take inspiration from scripture: “Do not oppress the alien among you, for you were once aliens in Egypt,” (Exodus 22:20, Leviticus 19:33-34, Deuteronomy 10:19.) To learn more about the aid fund, visit decorahucc.org/immigration/