(CBS) — More than a dozen children gathered at a West Side church Sunday asking immigration officials to release their fathers.

WBBM’s Mariam Sobh reports the children waived American flags as they said the Pledge of Allegiance.

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12-year-old Lizbeth Barrera read a letter she wrote to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

“My dad helps me in math homework,” she said. “Without him, my grades will go down. My dad is not a criminal.”

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Her father was one of eight empoyees the Mundelein-based Ruprecht Meat Packing Company detained by ICE officials last week.

One mother told WBBM she can’t afford the money needed for her ex-husband’s bond and her children are devastated.

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ICE released a statement saying, “Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted an enforcement operation July 8-9 targeting convicted criminal aliens who fall within ICE’s enforcement priorities for deportation. Following are some of the criminal convictions of the eight aliens arrested by HSI: domestic battery, drunk driving, theft and felony fraud. HSI identified these criminal aliens during a routine administrative (I-9) audit at Ruprecht Company that remains ongoing.”