Mississippi Churches Offer Help After Immigration Raids

Episcopal Bishop Brian Seage urges local congregations and individuals to help care for children. He adds, “We’re exploring avenues through which support—financial and otherwise—may be extended.”

At a rally the day after the raids, Seage said, “We are called as people of faith to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” The church can’t rest, he says, until all families are reunited and all people “who dare to have the American dream and dare to go work can go to work and not worry whether or not they will be coming home at night.”

Children and Supporters Marched on Sunday

Yesterday, about 50 children of mostly Latino immigrants marched around the Madison County courthouse in Canton, carrying signs with messages about needing their parents. Mary Hicks, a Sunday school teacher at Sacred Heart, helped organize the event after children requested help. Because the community is filled with “a lot of fear,” Hicks says, she made special drop-off and security arrangements to “keep everyone safe” at the march.

Amarya Knott, one of the supporters walking alongside the children, said, “Mississippi is a very family-oriented state, so people—despite their religion and their politics—they want to support children.”

Another marcher, Josh Parshall, is a practicing Jew who says “all sorts of different types of people…need to hold together right now and do the right thing, support each other.” Although he can remove his yarmulke and “be invisible” as a member of a marginalized group, he says, “Certain other minority groups don’t have that choice.”

Officials Defend Immigration Raids But Call Timing “unfortunate” 

On Sunday, as children of immigrants marched, Trump administration officials defended the raids. When shown a video of a girl crying about her detained father, Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said he understood she was upset “but her father committed a crime.”

Tony McGee, school superintendent of Scott County, says last Wednesday, the day of the raids, “was by far the worst day [some teachers] have ever spent as educators.” The next day, more than 150 students were absent from the district of 4,000, he says.

Kevin McAleenan, acting Homeland Security Secretary, admits the timing of the raids was “unfortunate,” coming on the heels of the El Paso massacre, where Hispanics were apparently targeted. But he says the raids had been in the works for more than a year.

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Stephanie Martin
Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 26 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.