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Church Worker Wants Better Treatment for Immigrants

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Posted: Jul 29, 2014 6:36 PM

Updated: Jul 29, 2014 6:39 PM

McALLEN - An employee at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen is upset with the way some people view and treat illegal immigrants.

Retired Attorney Ofelia de los Santos helps out at the church where the immigrants are being cared for before their journey north.

De los Santos was a public defender. Now she works for Catholic Charities.

De los Santos said she hears stories of sacrifice and hardship.

"It's horrible to listen to these stories day after day and not be affected by it," De los Santos said.

"All of us go home (to) our comfortable beds at night. Our grandchildren just have everything they want in this beautiful country of ours. We realize the pain that these people are going through and it breaks our hearts," De los Santos said.

De los Santos said she wishes they could do more to help the Central Americans who come through their doors. The immigrants show up at Sacred Heart to seek food, clothes and rest before heading north.

"The mothers ... are telling us that they're coming because their children need to have a chance at life and that these gangs ... drug traffickers try to recruit them as early as 8 and 10 years old," De los Santos said.

De los Santos said it angers her very much when people speak out against illegal immigrants.

"It just breaks your heart that people in this country would actually treat other human beings like animals, like diseased animals. We don't have any diseases here. You can talk to anyone here. We might get a cold or two ... these children need our help. These families are suffering and if the church doesn't step up to take care of them nobody else will," she said.

The spokeswoman for the South Texas Minuteman Civil Defense Corps thinks differently. Olivia Garza supports protests against illegal immigration.

Garza said her group sympathizes with the immigrants' suffering, but believes the burden should not fall on the United States.

"Californians are making a stand. I'd like to see Texas do the same thing," Garza said.

"I'd like to see local residents here in the Valley make a stand and tell our government, ‘we don't want this here. I don't want to live in a city known as a refuge state or city for these people,'" Garza said.

Why keep them here? It costs so much money. (There are) a lot of citizens ... in the Valley that don't want them here," Garza said.

Garza said her group and others are planning protests against illegal immigration in the Valley.

De los Santos said the church and Catholic Charities will continue to serve the illegals in every way they can.

"If you can't make a living and you can't protect your children what are you going to do? You're going to look for a better place. The United States of America is that better place," she said.

Topics: ofelia de los santos, catholic charities, mcallen, sacred heart, illegal, immigration, border, crisis, obama, white house, administration, central america, rio grande valley, south texas

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