Outside the immigrant detention facility in Broadview, Minister Bobby Lawson, of Matteson, approaches distraught families who bring clothes and money to loved ones about to be deported.
He meets them at their cars.
“Habla Ingles?” he asks them. He speaks a little Spanish, he tells them. He will walk with them to the facility’s door and remind them they cannot enter with purses or cellphones. Mostly, he is there in case they need to lean on someone.
Some families have driven through the night from other states. They will have maybe a minute, no more, to say goodbye. All they can do is say it; no embraces are allowed.
Inside the facility, other members of the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants minister to emotional detainees. Some haven’t been able to let their families know they are being deported. ICDI members ask if they can call someone on their behalf.
Detainees get a yellow slip of paper from ICDI with information about a safe house in Matamoros, Mexico. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will drop them off in that dangerous border town, but there really isn’t a safe border area anymore in Mexico. At the safe house, they can use the phone, get money for a bus ticket and receive counseling.
The interfaith group meets outside the Broadview facility every Friday for a 7:15 a.m. prayer vigil, joined by others who have been spiritually moved by the group’s work in Broadview and at the McHenry County Jail, a longer term detention facility. The facility in Broadview is a processing center, a brief stop in deportation.