'Let our voices be heard': March against immigration raids

  • Children of mainly Latino immigrant parents hold signs in support of them and those individuals picked up during an immigration raid at a food processing plant in Canton, Miss., following a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. The raids Tuesday at poultry plants in Mississippi have spurred churches that have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers to now step up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members.

    Children of mainly Latino immigrant parents hold signs in support of them and those individuals picked up during an immigration raid at a food processing plant in Canton, Miss., following a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. The raids Tuesday at poultry plants in Mississippi have spurred churches that have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers to now step up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members. Associated Press

  • A woman prays during a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. Churches have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers following immigration raids at seven Mississippi poultry plants, and are now stepping up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members, even as some church leaders denounce the raids that Republican leaders of the conservative state have applauded.

    A woman prays during a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. Churches have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers following immigration raids at seven Mississippi poultry plants, and are now stepping up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members, even as some church leaders denounce the raids that Republican leaders of the conservative state have applauded. Associated Press

  • Children of mainly Latino immigrant parents hold signs in support of them and those individuals picked up during an immigration raid at a food processing plant, during a protest march to the Madison County Courthouse in Canton, Miss., following a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. The raids Tuesday at poultry plants in Mississippi have spurred churches that have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers to now step up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members.

    Children of mainly Latino immigrant parents hold signs in support of them and those individuals picked up during an immigration raid at a food processing plant, during a protest march to the Madison County Courthouse in Canton, Miss., following a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. The raids Tuesday at poultry plants in Mississippi have spurred churches that have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers to now step up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members. Associated Press

  • Dulce Basurto-Arce, of Canton, Miss., speaks of why some parents seeking a better life for their children break the law and get arrested, during a protest march at the Madison County Courthouse in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. The protest was by mainly Latino children who marched from an area church to the courthouse in support of their immigrant parents and individuals picked up during an immigration raid at a poultry processing plant in Canton and other mid-Mississippi poultry plants.

    Dulce Basurto-Arce, of Canton, Miss., speaks of why some parents seeking a better life for their children break the law and get arrested, during a protest march at the Madison County Courthouse in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. The protest was by mainly Latino children who marched from an area church to the courthouse in support of their immigrant parents and individuals picked up during an immigration raid at a poultry processing plant in Canton and other mid-Mississippi poultry plants. Associated Press

  • Father Mike O'Brien, left, and Deacon Cesar Sanchez offer communion and blessings during a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. Churches have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers following immigration raids at Mississippi poultry plants, and are now stepping up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members, even as some church leaders denounce the raids that Republican leaders of the conservative state have applauded.

    Father Mike O'Brien, left, and Deacon Cesar Sanchez offer communion and blessings during a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. Churches have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers following immigration raids at Mississippi poultry plants, and are now stepping up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members, even as some church leaders denounce the raids that Republican leaders of the conservative state have applauded. Associated Press

  • Children of mainly Latino immigrant parents hold signs in support of them and those individuals picked up during an immigration raid at a food processing plant in Canton, Miss., following a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. The raids Tuesday, at seven poultry plants in Mississippi have spurred churches, that have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers to now step up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members.

    Children of mainly Latino immigrant parents hold signs in support of them and those individuals picked up during an immigration raid at a food processing plant in Canton, Miss., following a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. The raids Tuesday, at seven poultry plants in Mississippi have spurred churches, that have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers to now step up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members. Associated Press

  • A Latino youth wears a t-shirt that has "American" written on the back at a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. Churches have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers following immigration raids at seven Mississippi poultry plants, and are now stepping up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members, even as some church leaders denounce the raids that Republican leaders of the conservative state have applauded.

    A Latino youth wears a t-shirt that has "American" written on the back at a Spanish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton, Miss., Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. Churches have been key to providing spiritual and emotional comfort to workers following immigration raids at seven Mississippi poultry plants, and are now stepping up to provide material aid to jailed or out-of-work church members, even as some church leaders denounce the raids that Republican leaders of the conservative state have applauded. Associated Press

  • Sacred Heart Catholic Church parishioner Helen Greene carries cans of sausages to a storage room at the old school formerly used by the church, Friday, Aug. 9. 2019 in Canton, Miss. Rice, beans, canned meats, diapers and other sundry items are being collected to assist families affected by the immigration raids of several food processing plants, including one in Canton.

    Sacred Heart Catholic Church parishioner Helen Greene carries cans of sausages to a storage room at the old school formerly used by the church, Friday, Aug. 9. 2019 in Canton, Miss. Rice, beans, canned meats, diapers and other sundry items are being collected to assist families affected by the immigration raids of several food processing plants, including one in Canton. Associated Press

  • Rice, beans, canned meats, diapers and other sundry items are being stored by Sacred Heart Catholic Church parishioner Mary Greene at the church's old school in Canton, Miss., Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. The items were donated by parishioners, area residents and others to assist families affected by the immigration raids of several food processing plants, including one in Canton.

    Rice, beans, canned meats, diapers and other sundry items are being stored by Sacred Heart Catholic Church parishioner Mary Greene at the church's old school in Canton, Miss., Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. The items were donated by parishioners, area residents and others to assist families affected by the immigration raids of several food processing plants, including one in Canton. Associated Press

  • St. Joseph Catholic Church parishioner Gayle Price of Madison, stacks boxes of crackers in a storage room at the old school formerly used by Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Friday, Aug. 9. 2019 in Canton, Miss. Rice, beans, canned meats, diapers and other sundry items are being collected to assist families affected by the immigration raids of several food processing plants, including one in Canton.

    St. Joseph Catholic Church parishioner Gayle Price of Madison, stacks boxes of crackers in a storage room at the old school formerly used by Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Friday, Aug. 9. 2019 in Canton, Miss. Rice, beans, canned meats, diapers and other sundry items are being collected to assist families affected by the immigration raids of several food processing plants, including one in Canton. Associated Press

  • In this Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019 photo, Jesse Van Fleet, left, assists Jasmine Ward and Myles Wright, 5, of Jackson, unload donated items for the pantry at the Carlisle Crisis Center in Forest, Miss. The center, a ministry of Scott County Baptist Association, says they will need more food items to help out the families affected by the fallout of Wednesday's raid by U.S. immigration officials at poultry plants Koch Foods and PH Foods in neighboring Morton. The raids were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as undocumented employees.

    In this Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019 photo, Jesse Van Fleet, left, assists Jasmine Ward and Myles Wright, 5, of Jackson, unload donated items for the pantry at the Carlisle Crisis Center in Forest, Miss. The center, a ministry of Scott County Baptist Association, says they will need more food items to help out the families affected by the fallout of Wednesday's raid by U.S. immigration officials at poultry plants Koch Foods and PH Foods in neighboring Morton. The raids were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as undocumented employees. Associated Press

  • In this Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019 photo, while his father, Pastor Hugo Villegas inspects the freezer, Pablo Villegas, right, says the pantry at the Carlisle Crisis Center in Forest, Miss., has a limited amount of perishable foods, courtesy of the immediate community, as well as contributions from individuals as far away as Jackson, and help from some social agencies and civic groups.  The center, a ministry of Scott County Baptist Association, says they will need more food items to help out the families affected by the fallout of Wednesday's raid by U.S. immigration officials at poultry plants Koch Foods and PH Foods in neighboring Morton. The raids were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as undocumented employees.

    In this Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019 photo, while his father, Pastor Hugo Villegas inspects the freezer, Pablo Villegas, right, says the pantry at the Carlisle Crisis Center in Forest, Miss., has a limited amount of perishable foods, courtesy of the immediate community, as well as contributions from individuals as far away as Jackson, and help from some social agencies and civic groups. The center, a ministry of Scott County Baptist Association, says they will need more food items to help out the families affected by the fallout of Wednesday's raid by U.S. immigration officials at poultry plants Koch Foods and PH Foods in neighboring Morton. The raids were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as undocumented employees. Associated Press

  • In this Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019 photo, Pastor Hugo Villegas, right, and his son Pablo Villegas, second from right, assist Cade Vowell, left, and his sister Addison Vowell, second from left, unload donated items for the pantry at the Carlisle Crisis Center in Forest, Miss. The center, a ministry of Scott County Baptist Association, says they will need more food items to help out the families affected by the fallout of Wednesday's raid by U.S. immigration officials at poultry plants Koch Foods and PH Foods in neighboring Morton. The raids were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as undocumented employees.

    In this Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019 photo, Pastor Hugo Villegas, right, and his son Pablo Villegas, second from right, assist Cade Vowell, left, and his sister Addison Vowell, second from left, unload donated items for the pantry at the Carlisle Crisis Center in Forest, Miss. The center, a ministry of Scott County Baptist Association, says they will need more food items to help out the families affected by the fallout of Wednesday's raid by U.S. immigration officials at poultry plants Koch Foods and PH Foods in neighboring Morton. The raids were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as undocumented employees. Associated Press

  • Domingo Candelaria, a registered immigrant, shows federal agents his identification as he prepares to leave the Koch Foods Inc., plant in Morton, Miss., following a raid by U.S. immigration officials, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. The raid, one of several in Mississippi, was part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as undocumented employees.

    Domingo Candelaria, a registered immigrant, shows federal agents his identification as he prepares to leave the Koch Foods Inc., plant in Morton, Miss., following a raid by U.S. immigration officials, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. The raid, one of several in Mississippi, was part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as undocumented employees. Associated Press

  • Friends, coworkers and family watch as U.S. immigration officials raid several Mississippi food processing plants, including this Koch Foods Inc., plant in Morton, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. The early morning raids were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as undocumented employees.

    Friends, coworkers and family watch as U.S. immigration officials raid several Mississippi food processing plants, including this Koch Foods Inc., plant in Morton, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. The early morning raids were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as undocumented employees. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/11/2019 6:39 PM

CANTON, Miss. -- The children of Sacred Heart Catholic Church streamed out into Mississippi's heat on a blistering Sunday afternoon, carrying what they said was a message of opposition against immigration raids their parents could not.

"I will not sit in silence while my parents are taken away," read a sign carried by two Hispanic boys. They were among a group of several dozen marchers who set out on foot from the church to the town square in Canton to protest the 680 migrant arrests at seven poultry plants in Mississippi last Wednesday.

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"Imagine coming home and not finding your parents," said Dulce Basurto-Arce, an 18-year-old community college student, describing how parents of friends were arrested. "We are marching so no other kid has to go through what we went through. Let our voices be heard!"

Basurto-Arce spoke from the steps of the same courthouse in Canton where Martin Luther King Jr. once rallied protesters against segregation in a 1966 "March Against Fear" across Mississippi.

Churches were the backbone of the civil rights movement. Today, as President Donald Trump and Republican allies continue to defend the raids, churches have emerged as the top sources of spiritual and material support to the mostly Mexican and Guatemalan workers targeted by the raids.

Some churches are going beyond comfort and material aid, with their response flaring into political opposition. The state's Catholic, Episcopal, United Methodist and Evangelical Lutheran bishops denounced the raids in a joint statement Friday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The bishops said they would aid the immigrant families, saying there is "an urgent and critical need at this time to avoid a worsening crisis."

"We are called ... to speak the truth. And the truth is, this is not right," said Bishop Brian Seage of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, speaking at a news conference one day after the raids.

On Sunday, Trump administration officials defended their actions, amid emotional pleas from children to let their parents go.

Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan acknowledged that one video of an 11-year-old sobbing was "emotional" but said the girl was quickly reunited with her mother.

"I understand that the girl is upset. And I get that," Morgan said on CNN. "But her father committed a crime."

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan acknowledged that the timing of the raids was "unfortunate," coming hours before Trump visited El Paso, Texas, where a man who told authorities he was targeting Mexicans killed 22 people on Aug. 3. But McAleenan told NBC the operation had been planned for more than a year.

Hours after the officials' televised appearances, more than 250 people filled Sacred Heart to overflowing. A few were white people there to show support, but most were Hispanic congregants who normally attend the weekly Spanish-language Mass.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Deacon Cesar Sanchez, who is originally from Mexico's Michoacan state and is studying to be a priest in the Jackson diocese, gave a homily in Spanish in which he spoke of Jesus also being an immigrant and a refugee. He said the church is a pilgrim church and that "God is with his people."

The Canton church has emerged as a hub of the community's response to the raid. Its pastor, the Rev. Mike O'Brien, stood with parishioners until 4 a.m. Thursday outside the Peco Foods plant in Canton, awaiting those freed from custody that night. O'Brien said he drove several people home who had hidden from federal agents inside the plant and emerged late at night.

Those arrested and released can't work legally and their families may face one last paycheck as income dries up. Immigration court dates may not be until 2020 because of a deep backlog. Those who face court proceedings must also pay for their own lawyers or go without, and may have court dates at locations hundreds of miles away.

"What are their children going to eat?" the Rev. Jason Coker, coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Mississippi, asked last week.

In answer, churches including Sacred Heart are collecting food, diapers and money. They're helping members meet lawyers.

Maria Rodriguez is one person looking to churches for help. She said Sunday at Sacred Heart that her husband, Gumensihdo Rodriguez-Lopez, had been seized by federal agents at Peco and is now held in Natchez, Mississippi.

As she talked, she rocked the youngest of the couple's five children, Azael, in his stroller. "He's sad for his father," she said in Spanish of the fussy toddler. "Everyone is sad."

"We really need him back because we have kids and I don't work," she said through a translator. "I don't know what I'm going to do."

Other religious groups are helping, too.

Pastor Hugo Villegas is a missionary for the Scott County Baptist Association, overseeing a Spanish-speaking mission in Morton, where two plants were raided, as well as two in the larger neighboring town of Forest. People have been droping off donations for the families at the Baptist association's food pantry and clothes closet.

But Tere Villegas, the pastor's wife, said few Hispanic families typically come to the pantry so they are spreading the word that aid is available. She added, English-speaking Baptists "have been helping out any way they can."

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Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy

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