Hope. At this moment it is 7:30 a.m. on the observed Fourth of July holiday and 12 people of faith have gathered because they are so passionate about caring for our asylum seeking brothers and sisters. The meeting grew out of the State’s decision to not fund General Assistance for Asylum Seekers and the Portland City Council’s decision to continue providing benefits for one year to current recipients but to give NO help for new arrivals. Our conversation revolved around the moral imperative to care. Simply that. We understand the complexity of immigration, the challenges of our current state administration, the scarcity and sense of fear that feels overwhelming and the steep hill that is in front of us. More than all that, however, we understand respect, love, equality, faith and understanding.   This was one of many meetings with many advocacy groups who are all trying to figure out what comes next for the beautiful men, women and children who, in our conversations, we so easily lump as category of asylum seekers…only marginally aware of what that labels translates to for each individual who has fled their home, livelihood, families, life…because their very lives depended on escape. We did not solve anything in our few hours together this morning. BUT, we are ready to help, committed to working together and to not leave anyone behind. We have faith that our combined efforts will hold our community and alleviate suffering. This gives me HOPE.