Chicagoland

Annual immigration posada prays for DACA resolution

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
December 20, 2017

Annual immigration posada prays for DACA resolution

About 250 people took to the streets of the Loop early in the morning of Dec. 15 to reenact Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem and to pray for immigration reform in the United States.
Eva and Alvaro Rodriguez, potraying Mary and Joseph, lead a procession in the Loop during the 12th annual immigration posada Dec. 15. Catholic advocates for immigrants held the traditional reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter to pray for “legislative shelter” and to advocate for reforms in the U.S. immigration system. (Ariane Moya/Catolico)
Posada participants carried signs related to immigration reform on Dec. 15. (Ariane Moya/Catolico)
About 250 pilgrims particpated in a procession in the Loop during the 12th annual immigration posada in Chicago Dec. 15. Catholic advocates for immigration reform held the traditional reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter as a time to pray for "legislative shelter." (Ariane Moya/Catolico)
About 250 pilgrims particpated in a procession in the Loop during the 12th annual immigration posada in Chicago Dec. 15. Catholic advocates for immigration reform held the traditional reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter as a time to pray for "legislative shelter." (Ariane Moya/Catolico)
About 250 pilgrims particpated in a procession in the Loop during the 12th annual immigration posada in Chicago Dec. 15. Catholic advocates for immigration reform held the traditional reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter as a time to pray for "legislative shelter." (Ariane Moya/Catolico)
Elena Segura, associate director of the archdiocese’s Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity, speaks at the beginning of the 12th annual immigration posada in Chicago Dec. 15. (Ariane Moya/Catolico)
Bishop John Manz prays during the 12th annual immigration posada in Chicago Dec. 15. (Ariane Moya/Catolico)
Francisacn Father Ed Shea, second from right, leads the posada hymn outside St. Peter's in the Loop, 110 W. Madison St., at the end of the immigration posada Dec. 15. (Ariane Moya/Catolico)

About 250 people took to the streets of the Loop early in the morning of Dec. 15 to reenact Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem and to pray for immigration reform in the United States. 

The 12th annual posada for immigration reform included prayers and songs as well as stops at significant sites in downtown Chicago. This year’s event focused on praying for the nearly 800,000 young people who stand to lose their protection from deportation starting next year.

“We have been seeking shelter in this country for 12 years,” said Elena Segura to the group that gathered in the pre-dawn gloom at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building, 101 W. Congress Ave. “This year has been a difficult one. There has been a lot of darkness.”

Segura is associate director of the archdiocese’s Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity, which hosted the posada. She started the service by praying the first decade of the rosary for the people scheduled to be deported that morning from a detention facility in Kankakee, Illinois.

People eligible for DACA — called DREAMers after a bill that would have given them legal status — were brought to the United States illegally as children and have gone to school and stayed out of trouble here. After the DREAM Act, which was first introduced in 2001, failed to pass after being reintroduced in 2011, President Barack created DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — by executive order to give temporary protection to such young people.

Many are students or young professionals, said immigration attorney Royal Berg, who spoke to the posada pilgrims. They include 20,000 teachers. Locally, there are 34 medical students who have have DACA status at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine, Berg said.

President Donald Trump rescinded DACA in September, with a six-month delay to allow Congress to act if it chooses to.

Berg and Segura urged pilgrims to contact senators and representatives to pass a “clean” DREAM Act — one that addresses only the need to provide some kind of legal status for DREAMers without added immigration enforcement provisions — before Congress went home for its Christmas recess. 

One DACA recipient spoke at the end of the pilgrimage, saying she was brought to the United States when she was 1 year old. Grecia Palacios didn’t know she was undocumented until she applied for a learner’s permit for driver education, she said, and after graduating from high school with honors in 2014, she couldn’t go to college and instead took a factory job with low wages.

She was able to get a better job after receiving a work permit through her DACA status in 2016. 

“I work for State Farm,” she said. “For now.”

Posada pilgrims included many representatives of the Priests for Justice for Immigrants and Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants, as well as people who work with Pastoral Migratoria, an immigrant-to-immigrant ministry active in 50 archdiocesan parishes. Also in attendance were immigration parish coordinators, who organize advocacy for immigration reform in primarily non-immigrant parishes.

Debbi Pellegrini, an immigration parish coordinator from St. Christopher Parish in Midlothian, said she attended the early morning posada to show solidarity with the immigrant community. 

“We’re all part of the story,” she said. “You can feel people’s pain and sorrow with the support they are not receiving. But as we journey together, we look forward to better times. I like to be part of this hope.”

Isaac Reyes came with a group of students from Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein.

“I came to show my support for immigration reform,” said Reyes, a senior at the school. “It’s important to be here for the immigrant community.”

Pilgrims stopped to pray at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, DePaul University’s downtown campus and Federal Plaza.

Adriana and Fernando Flores, members of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Wheeling, were one of two couples who portrayed Mary and Joseph, asking for shelter at each stop. 

“We decided to do this to support our neighbors and friends and relatives who aren’t as fortunate as we are,” said Fernando Flores.

The last stop on the pilgrimage was St. Peter Church in the Loop, where the pilgrims were admitted.

Once inside, they received hot chocolate and coffee as well as sweet bread and tamales.

As the pilgrims shed their hats, scarves and gloves, Segura called their attention to how good it felt to be warm after spending more than an hour out in the cold.

“What a beautiful feeling it is to be warm,” Segura said. “Especially after being cold. That’s exactly what’s happening right now in the immigrant community. We need this warmth.”

Topics:

  • immigration reform
  • posada

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