Mississippi’s Catholic bishops are speaking out against last week’s extensive Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids that targeted workers at food processing plants, rounding up and detaining nearly 700 undocumented immigrants.
Nearly 400 of those detained — some of whom left children behind on the first day of the new school year— have not yet been released.
“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,” Bishops Joseph Kopacz of Jackson and Louis Kihneman of Biloxi said in an Aug. 9 joint statement together with representatives of the state's Episcopal, Methodist, and Evangelical Lutheran Church of America communities.
ICE agents carried out raids on seven sites in Mississippi Aug. 7, rounding up as many as 700 undocumented workers. Officials have announced that around 300 of those detained have been released on humanitarian grounds, many of them parents who are now reunited with their children, CNN reports.
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Jackson is asking for donations— both monetary and also items such as diapers, baby formula, household and school supplies, and hygiene kits— to help families affected by the raids.
“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,” the Christian leaders said in their joint statement.
They echoed USCCB president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who wrote a letter to President Trump last month saying that ICE raids “cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities.”
“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,” the Christian leaders said.
CNN spoke to Father Odel Medina at St. Anne Catholic Church in Carthage, about 50 miles northeast of Jackson, who said around 50 members of his congregation were detained in the raids. He called the raids a “disaster” for his parish, CNN reports.