Advocating for Undocumented Workers

Seeing the world from another perspective

We live in a charged political climate. Undocumented workers can be criminalized and shamed, and are often spoken of as an “issue” rather than a people. We at Circle of Hope, as part of the body of Christ in the world, seek to live incarnationally—that is, relating to people on a personal, human level, as Jesus would. We try to see the world from a communal perspective, remembering that “The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked,” (Psalm 146:9).

Dinner series, Circle of Hope and Right2workWith this in mind, Circle of Hope recently partnered with an organization called People’s Alliance for Undocumented Worker’s Rights (PAUWR) headed by Ben Miller and Christina Martinez, who own South Philly Barbacoa. They started the organization to address the issues associated with being an undocumented worker and living in fear of abuse, deportation, and other dangerous situations. PAUWR’s mission states that they are “advocates for justice, equality, and dignity for undocumented workers to achieve fair immigration laws and policies.” To address these issues, they created a dinner series to give a voice to undocumented workers and to educate the general public. Basically, they ask local chefs and restaurants to collaborate with them to do this, in order to show a united force advocating for undocumented workers in the restaurant industry.

Uniting for Dinner and Advocacy

Circle of Hope, through Kristen Snow and Joshua Grace, collaborated with Steph Irwin of PAUWR, to put on an event at our Frankford Avenue space. They hosted about 60 people in the space, and had 5 different restaurants/food vendors provide a plated dinner for the guests. Among them were: Drexel Food Lab, Soup Kitchen Cafe, Chef Ange Branca of Saté Kampar, and Chef Bobby Saritsoglou from Opa. The event also included a trio of musicians (Nimrod Speaks and band), as well as several speakers to address the audience. Maria, an undocumented worker gave a speech of her experience in Spanish and had it translated. Tom Griffin, an immigration lawyer and partner/advocate for PAUWR, addressed the guests regarding the inherent discrimination in the system for undocumented workers. Finally, Nicole Kligerman spoke of her change in career to work for the New Sanctuary Movement, an organization that works to end the injustices against immigrants regardless of status.

If you or someone you know is passionate about the issues that undocumented workers experience, you can find more info about how to get involved at You can join their mailing list, or follow right2work on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Alene Young, reporting

Alene is a Circle of Hope Compassion Core team member, a NICU nurse, and an explorer of Philly by way of running. In her spare time she enjoys attempting to cook, doing hand-stands, and eating anything with chocolate and peanut butter.

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