On a snowy morning in January of 2007, an immigration lawyer and two Catholic Sisters of Mercy stood outside the Broadview Immigration Staging Center to be in solidarity with men and women being deported that day. The experience of that day drove the two Sisters to be present every Friday at 7:15 am and to make attempts to get inside to pray with those being deported. When that request was denied an attempt was made to provide pastoral care to immigrant detainees at McHenry County Jail. That request was denied.
With the help of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, a bill to mandate access to provide spiritual care for immigrant detainees was entered into the Illinois House and Senate. Even though this had originated through Catholic Sisters, it was necessary to show that people of all faiths felt that spiritual care and visitation was a human and religious right of those detained. This was the beginning of the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants – when men and women of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths worked together to get HB4613 passed. The bill passed unanimously in the Illinois House and Senate on November 20, 2008 and became law in June 2009. This bill opened the door for the programs that exist now with the participation of seventeen different faith groups. See the Access to Religious Ministry Act of 2008 here.
The Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants is a non-profit, faith-based organization of staff and volunteers called to respond actively and publicly to the suffering of all individuals and communities affected by immigration detention, deportation, and post-detention through pastoral care, advocacy, public witness and other activities.