Cleveland churches helping local families deal with deportations

CLEVELAND - A new program, developed in Cleveland and believed to be the first of its kind in the country has local churches helping families deal with deportation.

"What can we do to make this transition a little bit easier for people," said Fr. Robert Reidy.

It's the question that prompted Fr. Reidy to take action.

"We've been helping people legally for a while. Now, we are seeing we have to take another step," said Reidy.

For the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland that meant creating a parish companion program.

"I think this will spread," said Mark McCarthy.

McCarthy is one of 42 people recently trained to assist local families facing deportation.

"In the space of a week or two they can be gone without warning or without an ability to plan," said McCarthy.

In Fr. Reidy's congregation, Lasagada Familia, several families are currently facing deportation.

Up until this point, most have been charting the course back to their native country alone.

"There's actually no one that's reaching out to them," said Reidy.

Now, in churches across the city, assistance is available.

"It will be entirely confidential, nobody will know," said McCarthy.

The task of getting affairs like finances, properties, and guardians for children in order doesn’t have to be as daunting.

"We walk with them. Not necessarily giving them all the solutions, but letting them know they are not alone,” said Fr. Reidy.

Among the volunteers offering a hand and hope are lawyers and social workers.

"Those are areas in which we need to get much more help," said Fr. Reidy.

Bishop Nelson Perez told News 5 why the Cleveland Catholic Diocese is rolling out this companion program.

"The church has always been a voice for those who are poor, for those who are in need and those that can't help themselves," said Perez.

The goal is to see it adopted by people of all faiths.

"It's not just a Catholic problem, it's a human problem," said McCarthy.

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