By Melodie Woerman
Episcopal News Service
When a chartered plane brought a total of 36 migrants to Sacramento, Calif., on flights June 2 and again on June 5, members of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral joined other faith communities in providing immediate food and shelter, as well as the promise of ongoing support.
The cathedral is a founding member of Sacramento Area Congregations Together, or Sacramento ACT, the agency through which aid has been provided. Trinity’s dean, the Very Rev. Mathew Woodward, is a member of the board.
The migrants, all adults ages 20 to 40 and mostly from Venezuela, Colombia and Guatemala, were approached in El Paso, Texas, where some had been working, with the promise of housing and jobs if they agreed to go to California.
From there they were bused to Deming, N.M., and put on a plane chartered by the same Florida-based entity that flew migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in September 2022, where St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Mass., provided them with temporary housing and meals.
On June 6, an official with the Florida Division of Emergency Management admitted the agency was responsible for the two California flights. In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation appropriating $12 million to fund the state’s migrant relocation program. El Paso Roman Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz on June 14 told the Associated Press that recruiters for DeSantis had sought out asylum-seekers at the migrant center at El Paso’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church in order to fly them to California.
On June 2, 16 migrants arrived at a non-commercial airport and were bused to administrative offices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, where they were left on the sidewalk. A diocesan official noticed them and called Sacramento ACT.
On June 5, 20 migrants arrived at a different non-commercial airport, but Woodward told Episcopal News Service community organizers were warned of their pending arrival and met them there. Five migrants left to be with family or friends in the area, but the rest have remained together.
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