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Stop deportation and separating families!

June 17, 2011

By Marianne Comfort, Institute Justice Team

Next week, when hundreds of Sisters of Mercy gather in Chicago to speak out against the break-up of families resulting from deportations of immigrants, their action will be rooted in their own history.

The sisters came to this country as immigrants from Ireland in the mid-1800s. Since then, they have ministered to the needs of immigrants as part of their commitment to serve the most vulnerable, and in response to the Gospel call to welcome the stranger and to live in communion with others.

Today, the Sisters of Mercy are serving immigrants in social service centers, hospitals and schools around the country as well as visiting those held in detention centers.

Hearing immigrants talk of the violence and severe financial hardships that compelled them to leave their homes to seek a better life has prompted the Sisters of Mercy to advocate for immigration reform that includes creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Sisters have written on this blog about the drug violence ravaging the Mexican communities near the Texas border . I would flee my home, too, if I was worried, like some of the parents they know, about the increasing risk of my children being kidnapped or about my children seeing staged, headless bodies on a road they walk every day to school.

Many immigrants fleeing this kind of violence have endured horrific journeys to the United States, supported themselves here for years and contributed to their churches and communities, and raised children who are U.S. citizens. Yet they still live in fear, that a simple traffic stop could lead to deportation, and tear their families apart.

One sister has told a story of accompanying a woman through the delivery of her daughter, and having the husband on the phone so he could hear his new baby’s first cry. He had been deported to Guatamala and could not be there for the birth of his child. Other sisters tell of a mother who hadn’t seen her son in five months after being caught in an immigration raid at her workplace and detained in a county facility; of a woman with four children, one of whom has muscular dystrophy, whose husband was deported; of a child who was not allowed to see his father before the man was deported…

The Sisters of Mercy, many of them holding these kinds of images in their minds, will be carrying a strong message on Saturday, June 25th at Saint Xavier University in Chicago:

Stop Deportations! Stop ripping families apart!

If you’re in the Chicago area, please join us.

If you can’t make the public witness, please join the Sisters of Mercy in participating in the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s campaign Let My People Stay, which highlights cases of individual immigrants facing deportation and calls on President Obama and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to defer deportation orders for those cases.

Update 6/27/2011: Please visit our website  to learn more about what happened during the event and to see photos of the Mercy family advocating for those in need. 

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