DES MOINES, Iowa -- On Thursday Des Moines Bishop Richard Pates visited with immigrants who are being held at the Polk County Jail and scheduled to be deported. Bishop Pates says that the efforts in assisting immigrants and refugees comes directly from the top of the Catholic Church; Pope Francis
“He says that we must welcome them, we must do whatever we can to integrate them into our communities, that we must have compassion, that this perhaps is his number one issue he's involved with” said Pates.
Pates spent the early part of the day talking and praying with immigrants, reassuring them they aren't alone.
“Part of our, and the Pope's idea too, is to share the journey. We're with them, we're their friends, we're their backers, we're there to say let’s get this (immigration reform) done” he said.
With President Obama’s DACA executive order set to expire in March of 2018, Bishop Pates called on Iowa’s lawmakers to help pass the DREAM Act in congress, which would establish a permanent law allowing those who came to the United States as children to remain here and grant them civil status; people like Hugo Bolanos, who was brought here at five years old to escape poverty in Mexico.
“My mom, she would sometimes tell me about they didn't have enough diapers for my sister and they'd have to clean it off if she used it. That's unsanitary, that's inhumane and my mom couldn't keep living like that and neither could my dad” said Bolanos.
Bolanos, who dreamed of going to college to become a journalist, remembers when DACA was originally put into place by the Obama Administration.
“As soon as I sent my application in and got my social security card and my work permit that's when I believed it. I didn't want to get my hopes up and when I was holding it in my hand I just broke down. It was just like a dream come true; I could finally go to college, I could finally get a job” said Bolanos.
Now a graduate of Iowa State University, Hugo lives with the ever-present fear that his DACA protections will be taken away.
“My family and I, we wake up every morning and we're just thankful that we're still here and we try to enjoy every moment with each other ‘cause we don't know what will happen next” he said.
When asked how he felt about the chances of passing the DREAM Act under the Trump Administration, the bishop replied "Well, we do believe in miracles in the catholic church”.