Chicagoans lend a hand at border facility for families seeking asylum

WGN's Dina Bair has reported from the Texas-Mexico border this week.

MCALLEN, Tex. — A handful of Chicago priests made the journey to Texas Wednesday to observe how the church is helping immigrants and asylum-seekers along the border.

For those who meet the requirements of asylum-seekers, after they're released from border protection custody, they may move over to Sister Norma Pimentel's Humanitarian Respite Center.

"It might be the mother is pregnant or the infant is fragile," sister Norma said. "They are lucky because they do not go to a detention center where they could be for days or weeks. They are given the opportunity to continue the same process, but with a family member in the U.S."

Catholic Extension, which gave Sister Norma $100,000 from Chicago donors in August, is back to grant more money to build on her mission. Priests from Chicago, Inverness, Elk Grove Village, Northbrook and Evanston joined in the trip to meet the would-be migrants living near the border.

"They want to learn the language, they want to know the laws, they want to make our country a better place. The same dreams people had when they arrived at Ellis Island years ago," said Rev. Gary Graf, San Jose Sanchez del Rio.

Norma's hope is they will take the message of need back to Chicago.

"The moral part of this whole thing has to work with the legal part of it," Rev. Terry Keehan, Holy Family said. "People like sister Norma are living the gospel."