Until three undocumented immigrants were rounded up and processed by ICE agents in March, St. Josephâs Church in Fort Edward on Sundays was a melting pot of faces.
Members of up to 12 Mexican immigrant families, about 50 people in total, could be seen in the pews and at the altar, where Mexican immigrant children served as altar boys and girls.
âNo more,â the Rev. Tom Babiuch said solemnly in a recent interview. âThey donât come here anymore. Theyâre afraid to step out and have a normal life.â
Babiuch said he knows the three people well, and said he canât fathom how a nation built by immigrants can allow agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to grab people off the streets â people who were doing nothing wrong â and put them into a limbo of fear, wondering what will happen next to them and their kids.
âThis country has been built on Christian values and Christian messages. To do this to these people is totally unChristian,â he said.
ICE spokesman Khalid Walls said the apprehensions werenât random, but the result of a tip.
In an effort to help the immigrants, both those here legally and illegally, Babiuch and Julie Leonelli, the churchâs director of religious education, have formed a group theyâre calling North Country Immigration Support.
The goal of the group is to educate people that the immigrants are valuable not only to the farms and quarries where they work, but the communities where they live.
They said major immigration reform at the federal level is needed.
On Thursday, immigration activists Lisa Catalfamo and Sue Sanchez presented a talk at the church on the need for immigration reform. They showed dozens of Catalfamoâs photos from the town in Mexico many local immigrants came from.
Catalfamo, who is married to a Mexican immigrant and…