Churches in DuPage, Will counties collecting items for asylum-seekers
In response to what the Trump administration calls a growing humanitarian crisis at the southern border, a Wheaton-based group is organizing efforts to collect supplies to help migrant families seeking asylum.
People arriving at the U.S. border with Mexico currently can't receive asylum unless they request it at a port of entry. As a result, thousands of migrants have gathered in border cities waiting for their turn.
Cristobal Cavazos, of Immigrant Solidarity of DuPage, says there are people, including families with children, living on the streets of El Paso because shelters are at capacity in the Texas city. Meanwhile, there's a shelter in Brownsville, Texas, that is taking in about 100 people a day.
In response, the group has launched its "DuPage Solidarity with the Caravan Project" to collect food, clothing, tents, blankets and other items that will be delivered next month to Brownsville and El Paso.
"We are not going to turn our backs on these people," Cavazos said during a Monday rally in Wheaton.
He said asylum-seekers from Honduras and other nations in Central America are looking for a better life in the United States, "just like all immigrants before them."
"It is our duty as believers," he said. "It is our duty as people of conscience. It is our moral duty to not turn them away, but to welcome the people there."
Instead of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Cavazos said there needs to be "radical compassion."
That includes collecting items for "our dear brothers and sisters at the border," he said.
Once the collection drive is complete, a group will travel to deliver the items.
"You can talk about love," Cavazos said, "but love in action is solidarity. Love in action is justice. And love in action is what we're going to do."
The list of drop-off sites includes St. Andrew Lutheran Church in West Chicago, Lombard Mennonite Church, St. Andrew Methodist Church in Carol Stream, St. Margaret Mary Catholic Parish in Naperville and St. Jude Catholic Church in New Lenox.
Items also can be dropped off at Immigrant Solidarity of DuPage's office at 213 S. Wheaton Ave. in Wheaton.
"This caravan that we are putting together here in DuPage County is a caravan of hope, a caravan of solidarity," said Tom Cordaro, justice and outreach minister at St. Margaret Mary. "It is our way of showing that, in fact, our borders do not define us."
Gabriela Hernandez Chico of Hanover Park said she hopes the Hispanic community responds by making donations.
"We have a responsibility," she said. "We can't just sit and watch what's happening and not do anything. The families are coming."