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Feb 15, 2011 | Luke Blount

Prayer Vigil Seeks to Raise Awareness of Immigrants’ Challenge

San Mateo Houston - San Mateo Church HoustonOn Ash Wednesday, San Mateo, Houston, will begin a 40-hour prayer vigil for their community in Southwest Houston. The event will begin March 9 at 6:00 a.m. and end at 10:00 p.m. the following day.


“We are praying for three things,” said the Rev. Alejandro Montes, rector of San Mateo. “We want a new immigration law, improvement in the school situation and reduced crime in the area.”


In previous years, San Mateo, a predominately Spanish-speaking congregation, held prayer walks in their neighborhood to raise community awareness about the struggles that many of them face.


“It is estimated that 30 percent of our congregation does not have their papers,” Montes said.


As state immigration laws around the country have become more stringent, law enforcement in Texas has also clamped down on undocumented immigrants.  


“Now they cannot even get a drivers license like they could in previous years,” said Montes, a native Spanish-speaker. “In fact, when I went to get my driver’s license, I gave them my social security number, but it wasn’t good enough. They asked for my certification of citizenship. I had to come back the next day with my passport.  It is a very hard situation.”


Montes hopes that a new, more humane immigration law can be passed to help immigrants without proper documentation. Many parishioners of San Mateo are looking for an avenue to obtain legal registration without the fear of deportation.


Spanish-speaking television and radio stations in Houston will cover the prayer vigil, with the potential for English speaking media outlets picking it up.


“We are inviting everybody to come,” Montes said. “We need friends of the church to sign up to keep the line of prayer going.”


San Mateo Iglesia Episcopal can be reached at 713.664.7792 or online at