ISAIAH leaders from three Catholic Latino parishes, St. Odilia, St. Francis de Sales and Sacred Heart, gathered members of their communities for a Latino Faith Summit last weekend at Sacred Heart Church.  Anxiety and concern has grown in the St. Paul Latino undocumented community because of developments in immigration policy both nationally and regionally.

Minnesota should be a state where each families’ contributions are appreciated, and all community members are valued and welcomed. In the past year ICE detentions have grown by 67% in the Midwest region, including Minnesota. The Supreme Court in February determined that all immigrants regardless of status can be held in “Indefinite detention without a chance for bail.” Just this month, the Secretary of Homeland Security reaffirmed the administrations’ zero tolerance policy which “calls for separating families who cross the border illegally.”

A faith leader at Sacred Heart Church in her opening remarks said, “We are people of faith, who come to this country, not to commit crimes, but to seek opportunity for us and our children. We leave behind so much to be in this country. Why call me anything but human?”

Leaders at the summit shared with elected officials the challenges that they face and their intention for officials to better understand who they are: contributing members of society. Leaders also emphasized their objective for the Latino community as a whole to be more involved in the public arena and to motivate others in their community to participate.

“I can’t vote. But I know my nieces and nephews who can vote. I know co-workers who can vote. I know parishioners who can vote. They need to use their vote to represent all of us. We need to talk with them,” said another leader from Saint Francis De Sales Church.

Sadly, not all of the confirmed elected officials heard the heartfelt stories that were shared. Of the three officials confirmed to attend, only council member Jane Prince was in attendance.  County Commissioner Blake Huffman did not show up and Toni Carter had a medical emergency.

Attendees called Commissioner Huffman and explained that the community was disappointed with his decision to not attend.

Leaders committed to continue working to make St. Paul and Minnesota a welcoming and inclusive community for all its residents, including families with undocumented status.