Churches in Mississippi are rallying behind undocumented immigrant families and children following U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on seven food-processing plants last week.
ICE arrested 680 people, with 300 released shortly after the raid with orders to appear before immigration judges.
This was one of the largest immigration raids to take place in the last 10 years. The events transpired on the first day of school, leaving many children returning to a parentless home. By morning, half of those arrested were release, due to a lack of space.
Churches stepped in to help families in need
Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church was one of the churches to step in and help in Canton, Mississippi in recent weeks. Rev. Michael O’Brien, who presides over the church explained that it was their Christian duty to assist the families by comforting detainee’s family members and providing aid.
“The people are all afraid,” O’Brien said, according to the Washington Post. “Their doors are locked, and they won’t answer.”
O’Brien also shared that the church provided rides to employees who had hidden from ICE, bringing them home to their children.
According to their website, Sacred Heart prides itself in their “Crisis Center,” which is run out of their Parish Hall.
“We have confirmed that all our children have at least one parent in their home, so they are safe,” the church notes on their homepage. “But these children are sad, traumatized, and scared.”
Due to the raids, many of the undocumented immigrants have found themselves jobless, and unable to provide for their families.
The church is collection donations including food, personal care items, as well as school supplies, alongside a monetary fund for things such as rent and basic household expenses.
Another church in the nearby town of Forest has also created a collection center for those impacted by the raids.
“Community has been great,” one volunteer Michael Bermudez said. “There’s been food and donations coming [from] around the United States.”
“I feel happy they do care about us,” one girl said. “Thank you for helping us.”
“I thank everybody that was always there for us,” Marialis Juan Felip, whose mother was arrested during the raids stated. “We’ve been working hard just to be here.”
Among churches volunteering, there are also organizations that are helping out with the crisis. Catholic Charities is busy organizing volunteers to help sort and deliver donations to various residents, pledging to donate 100 percent of everything donated.
Following the raids, the Scott County Baptist Association created a GoFundMe page to “to provide food, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and other emergency necessities to families in need.”