CHICAGO (CBS)– A Chicago charity more than a century old is on a mission, one that takes them to the Deep South to help undocumented immigrants.
Father Jack Wall is based in Chicago, but this blessing is happening in Mississippi. He’s ministering to people on the front line of the countries immigration crisis.
There are Guatemalans caught up in the aftermath of the largest ICE raid in American history.
It made headlines around the world in August when 680 immigrants were detained in a massive raid.
Many have been deported and many others remain locked up.
“You have two to 300 individuals who are still in detention,” Joe Boland of Catholic Extension of Chicago said.
Boland is the mission leader for Catholic Extension, which is also based in Chicago.
He said for each individual locked up, there’s a family broken up.
“Of course emotionally the children are very much wondering what’s going to happen to their parents in the months ahead,” Boland said.
So to help children deal with the trauma of separation, Catholic Extension of Chicago is creating a counseling program for children caught up in the crisis.
The goal is simple, “to let families know they’re not alone in this.”
So as ICE monitors parents with electronic bracelets on ankles, the Catholic Church monitors their children to try and minimize the trauma of forced separation.
“The church wholeheartedly believes it is an injustice to separate family over the fact they might have misrepresented themselves on a job application or resume,” Boland said. “That the punishment for that should not be to destroy a family. To destroy people’s lives and to separate children from their parents indefinitely.”
Boland said it’s the children who are suffering most as it’s exemplified by conversation he recently had with a 12-year-old boy whose father was deported and mother was detained.
“When his pregnant mother was released from detention, he told his mom he got on his bike and he said mom I’m going to find a job to support the family now because I’m the man of the house,” Boland said.
To those who say these people came here to the united states illegally tough luck, Boland says the view of the church is clear.
“The Catholic Church’s position is bad laws need to be changed,” he said. “And what we have now is a broken immigration system laws are created to serve us so we need to create laws that allow families to stay together to be together and that don’t rip families apart.”