[Editors' Note: This month, Sojourners and Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform will be featuring "The Stories of Immigration" blog series. We will highlight stories, songs, and interviews with immigrants and immigrant advocates as a way to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of immigrants and the broken immigration system here in the United States.]
After the Detention Watch Network's national member conference in Austin, Texas at the beginning of April, I sat down with two members of the Sisters of Mercy -- Sisters Pat Murphy and JoAnn Persch -- to learn why they visit immigrant detainees in Illinois.
Since 2007, Sisters Pat and JoAnn have offered emotional and spiritual support to immigrants facing deportation at McHenry County Jail and at the Broadview Service Processing Center -- the last stop for detained immigrants in the Chicago area before deportation. The Sisters played a critical role in advocating for the passage of the Illinois Access to Religious Ministry Act and for national policies recognizing the need for the humane treatment of detained immigrants. Their work serves as an ecumenical catalyst, engaging other faith communities to attend to the needs of detained immigrants. Their ministry combines weekly prayer vigils and individual detention center visits to help bring hope and support to immigrants (and their families) facing the uncertainty and harshness of immigration detention and the deportation process.
The Sisters have a long history of service to immigrants, going back to work in Latin America in the 1960s and, notably, their founding of Su Casa in 1990 to provide housing to refugees fleeing Central America.
Listen to my interview with Sister Pat Murphy and Sister JoAnn Persch below:
Will Coley is the founder of Aquifer Media, and has been an advocate and organizer with immigrants and refugees.