In Fort Edward, a church flock is lost | Local

Until three undocumented immigrants were rounded up and processed by ICE agents in March, St. Joseph’s 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.

“No more,” the Rev. Tom Babiuch said solemnly in a recent interview. “They don’t come here anymore. They’re afraid to step out and have a normal life.”

Babiuch said he knows the three people well, and said he can’t fathom how a nation built by immigrants can allow agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to grab people off the streets — people who were doing nothing wrong — and put them into a limbo of fear, wondering what will happen next to them and their kids.

“This country has been built on Christian values and Christian messages. To do this to these people is totally unChristian,” he said.

ICE spokesman Khalid Walls said the apprehensions weren’t 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 church’s director of religious education, have formed a group they’re 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 Catalfamo’s photos from the town in Mexico many local immigrants came from.

Catalfamo, who is married to a Mexican immigrant and…

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