Source: Diocese of Jackson/Fides
A police operation in the State of Mississippi has left dozens of children without parents. Hundreds of adults were arrested across the state after more than 600 Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) agents launched a series of raids last Thursday.
Until yesterday, state officials, lawyers and defenders of migrants did not know where the children had been sent, after their parents had been arrested, or who had been entrusted with child custody.
In what was the largest operation of its kind in over a decade, US agents arrested about 680 people, mostly Latin American workers, employed in seven food production companies in Mississippi.
In a joint statement on Friday, local Catholic, Episcopalian, Methodist and Evangelical Lutheran Bishops said:
'Raids, such as those conducted on Wednesday in the central part of Mississippi, only serve to, as Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote last month in a letter to President Trump, "cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities." We, the undersigned, condemn such an approach, which, as he rightly states, "has created a climate of fear in our parishes and communities across the United States."
To say that immigration reform is a contentious and complex topic would be an understatement. As Christians, within any disagreement we should all be held together by our baptismal promises. Our baptism, regardless of denomination calls us to unity in Jesus Christ. We are his body and, therefore, called to act in love as a unified community for our churches and for the common good of our local communities and nation. We can stand in solidarity to provide solace, material assistance and strength for the separated and traumatized children, parents and families. Of course, we are committed to a just and compassionate reform to our nation's immigration system, but there is an urgent and critical need at this time to avoid a worsening crisis.
We are grateful to all who are reaching out to help. Catholic Charities is organized to directly assist immigrant families. You can donate to support this humanitarian cause at: https://catholiccharitiesjackson.org/ and go to "August 7 ICE Raids" at the top right of the website.
Thank you for your concern, prayers and generosity.
Bishop Joseph R Kopacz, Catholic Diocese of Jackson
Bishop Louis F Kihneman, III, Catholic Diocese of Biloxi
Bishop Brian R Seage, Episcopal Diocese of Jackson
Bishop James E Swanson, Sr, The United Methodist Church
Bishop H Julian Gordy, ELCA Southeastern Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
Speaking with Fides News, Bishop Kopacz described the situation a "man-made disaster" He said: "The vast majority of these people are our neighbours. They are not criminals. They are hard-working people."
Bishop John Stowe of Louisville also criticised the raid. "While the nation is still grieving, especially the vulnerable immigrant population, ICE separates more families with huge raids. This cruelty must end."
Father Mike O'Brien, parish priest of the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Canton, said he has visited parishioners whose relatives have been arrested. "All the people are afraid," he said. "Their doors are closed."
Fr Mike said family and friends have been looking for children who have suddenly found themselves alone because their parents were in custody.
Bishop Kopacz said that the diocesan community is actively working in all the parishes to understand and provide what families need. Many families have lost jobs or breadwinners and will be facing increasing financial hardships very soon.
"As time goes on this month, there are going to be some real crises," he said.
Catholic Diocese of Jackson - https://jacksondiocese.org/
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