“In general, mission teams do team-building, tour mercy ministries of the church (food pantries, re-entry programs, thrift shops, etc) and assist with neighbourhood cleanup projects,” said the second letter.
It was this last part that was interpreted as “work for hire,” says Hoeksema. Officers denied them entry after they had been stopped for more than two hours.
.. On this occasion, however, the group was told that, as foreigners, they would be taking American jobs, and that there was no pressing need for relief work anyway this long after Hurricane Sandy hit the region in 2012.
“Hurricane Sandy happened five years ago … but the unfortunate thing for people who live in poverty is that they don’t get over these things as quickly as others,” he explained.
“They obviously can’t afford to remove the barriers that are in front of them on their own, so they rely on volunteers coming. And that’s all we were trying to do, go help others.”
Kaper-Dale agreed, saying it takes an average of seven years to get an impoverished family back on its feet.
.. “If you can’t get a church van with 12 white folks through [the border], how much worse is it for any person of colour, any person born somewhere else, any person whose name sounds foreign to an [Immigration, Customs and Enforcement] officer, or any refugee?”