by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
In Los Angeles, the Catholic Church is doing its part to help undocumented immigrants.
One cross that the Church continues to bear, especially on Holy Week, is the plight of immigrants — especially those who are undocumented.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has been holding forums, while investigating rumored immigration raids.
“The Archdiocese has set up an immigration office and the information is there. They’re going to start compiling,” said Fr. John Brannigan of St. Columban Church. “The Archdiocese is trying to verify a lot of the rumors and a lot of the rumors are correct. In the first week after the Trump ban came in February there’s a rumor a hundred people were picked up at MacArthur Park Alvarado.”
This Holy Week, Know Your Rights cards were distributed at several churches.
The wallet-sized card with a prayer from the Archbishop of LA gives instructions to undocumented immigrants on what to do if immigration officers approach them.
It also gives a checklist of documents and contacts that people who live in the country illegally should prepare.
For those that don’t make it to mass, the archdioceses has provided printable versions on their website.
“The Archdiocese came out. It’s a very big document one side is English; the other side is Spanish. It’s actually 50 pages divided into 5 sections, that you need to fill in to protect yourself against immigration authorities,” said Brannigan. “You should carry with you a little ID, so if anyone is arrested you can produce this, and say I’m not going to speak unless I’m in the presence of a lawyer.
Father Brannigan — who use to be stationed in the Philippines — now heads a church in Historic Filipinotown that is home to large Filipino and Latino populations.
The priest is also offering other forms of help.
“You need plenty of documentation. You need somewhere to keep your documents,” he said. “If you’d like I am offering this service at my place, to keep your documents safe.”
Just some of the few actions the country’s biggest Archdiocese has done for immigrant rights — an answer to an ongoing call that comes from Pope Francis himself.
The Los Angeles Archdiocese’s immigration office is not just made up of church officials. With a large Filipino and Latino county-wide population, community groups themselves are a part of the initiative.