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Local Faith Leaders Rally Behind Undocumented Immigrants

June 23, 2016 | WishTV 8| Link to Article 

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Published: June 23, 2016, 11:10 pm

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Some Indiana faith leaders and the undocumented immigrants who worship with them aren’t giving up after Thursday’s Supreme Court decision. The 4-4 vote stopped the President’s effort to protect parents of children who are in the country legally and expand a program that benefits people who were illegally brought into the country as children.

It affects how the undocumented immigrants pay for college. It also could lead to deportation, meaning families could be broken apart.

In tough times, people often turn to a higher power for answers, inspiration and hope.

 “We are going to hold onto hope, we are going to speak out for justice and make our voices heard,” said Pastor Stephen Carlsen as he addressed a prayer circle inside St. Anthony’s Catholic Church on Indy’s west side.

“We need to mobilize, we need to vote, especially,” said Andres Mares, an undocumented worker who grew up in Indiana.

“I consider myself a citizen of the United States — a Hoosier, but this decision to me means that I am not that,” he said.

The Supreme Court’s decision prevents him from being able to apply for scholarships as he pursues his dream at the University of Indianapolis. 

“I want to become a physical therapist and it’s already taken seven years to graduate from undergrad school, and it’s going to take longer due to this decision,” he said.

Carlsen is part of Indianapolis Congregational Action Network (IndyCAN), a collection of faith based groups dedicated to helping immigrant families get access to jobs, education and, most importantly, stay together.

And he’s not going to let Thursday’s decision stop that mission.

“We think that the tide is turning. We think that more and more people are recognizing what needs to be done, and we hope that the people who are facing election will feel this tide rising and will act accordingly,” he said. “Whether someone is documented or undocumented, whether they’re a citizen or not a citizen according to my faith and according to the words of Jesus, we’re neighbors and we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.”

Carlsen and Mares said their goal going forward is to continue to raise awareness for their cause heading into the general election in November, when they hope to rally enough votes that could reignite their fight.