St. Luke’s Episcopal Church North Park, in San Diego, CA, a member of EMM’s Partners in Welcome, is asking for your support of Episcopalian and St. Luke’s member, Constantin Bakala, who is an asylum-seeker. When Constantin Bakala won a stay of deportation in late February, St. Luke’s North Park began a new phase in their support of Constantin. They have one to three months before the Board of Immigration Appeals decides whether to grant him a new hearing, this time with legal representation.
The “ConstanTeam” has been hard at work preparing for that hearing, but ICE has undermined their efforts by moving Constantin every week: from Virginia to Louisiana to Alabama. Each time, Constantin is shackled and manacled with a chain around his waist. He and the other detainees are loaded into a bus—often at night—and when they arrive are left in an empty room to finish the night sleeping on the floor. He is now in the Etowah Detention Center, which even the local Gadsden, AL paper calls a “black hole.”
What St.Luke’s North Park has done:
- Hired a Psychologist: A psych eval is crucial to Constantin’s case, but a pro bono psychologist requires an 8 week wait. They have used some recent donations to hire a qualified clinician with a goal of a full report by early April.
- Booked Travel: When ICE moved Constantin, the psychologist said she’d follow him! They used donated airline miles and hotel points to control costs. (Want to help? See below.)
- Got Boots on the Ground: They set up a network of visitors to boost Constantin’s spirits and local lawyers to deliver legal documents through the labyrinth of prison regulations. Each place ICE moved Constantin, a visitor arrived within 48 hours.
- Tended the Home Fires: Senators and congressmen helped inspire ICE to respond to inquiries. St. Luke’s volunteers helped the family with grocery store runs and booked dental appointments to correct the effects of a year’s worth of migrant life.
How You Can Help:
- Write Constantin! Short letters of encouragement are all he needs. Even better if you know French.
- Donate Miles & Hotel Points: St. Luke’s is setting up a database of people with miles or points to donate when the next need arises. Until they need them, they’re yours; but if you can help out in a pinch, that’d be great.
- Network! They need volunteers willing to contact representatives in the Georgia 5th Congressional District (Atlanta, John Lewis), Alabama 4th District (Gadsden, Robert Aderholt), or Alabama 7th District (Tuscaloosa, Terri Sewell).
To learn more about how you can send letters to Constantin, donate miles, and give to a fund to support Constantin and his family, visit https://www.stlukesnorthpark.org/constantin. Sign up to receive email updates and calls for action!
St. Luke’s thanks the many volunteers who’ve already given their time, their connections, and their expertise to make the American dream come true for a man who stood up for democracy and the family he loves.