At St Pius V Church in Pilsen, the march toward immigration reform carried right up to the altar.
Father Brendan Curran lead his predominately Latino congregation this Sunday toward the larger goal of the May Day march for immigration reform downtown on Wednesday, “To just express our desire that the Congress pass legislation that is humane and dignified and that represents so many wounderful families and communities across the country.”
Outside, church members sold brightly colored t-shirts for five dollars a pop to stand out in the crowd.
“We have a big voice right now and we have to take advantage of that situation,” said Martha Santos, who came to America as a baby from Mexico and believes federal immigration reform is within reach, “I think people are a little more optimistic than they were before because I think the 72 percent of the Latinos who came out to vote in the last election made a big impact on politicians.”
The message, much the same at St. Gall Church on Chicago’s southwest side. Father Gary Graf just returned from Arizona, where he crossed illegally from Mexico back into the U.S. last week, then turned himself into authorizes, asking for forgiveness. He was trying to call attention to the current reform debate.
“It’s extremely dangerous. You risk your life, extremely costly and there’s got to be a better way,” said Fr. Graf.
Opponents of immigration reform in Congress are forming their own strategy. Looking to add “poison pill” amendments to the current legislation, aiming to slow or even kill the bill before it comes up for a vote.
It’s legislation those at St. Pius believe is good for their community, and the country.
We don’t want to be in fear anymore. We want to be part of the community, we want to be a part of this country and that’s what we’re working for,” said Santos.