The Most Rev. Jose Arturo Cepeda Escobedo, left, auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese, joins Marygrove College president David Fike and his wife, Sylvia Rosales-Fike, in pledging support for immigrants. (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)
Detroit — Security was tight and emotions raw Thursday as Marygrove College officials and religious leaders publicly urged President Barack Obama and the nation to embrace the thousands of Central American children seeking refuge in the U.S. from violence in their homelands.
Speaking during a news conference at the Detroit Catholic school, Sister Mary Jane Herb, president of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, called for a halt to the deportation of children and their families.
“These refugees are our brothers and sisters,” she said.
Herb, who leads the order that founded the college, was joined by Marygrove President David Fike and the Most Rev. Jose Arturo Cepeda Escobedo, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Fike said he would offer scholarships to the older children and provide food and shelter for other youths in the school’s residence hall. He said Marygrove is the only institute of higher learning to offer such help, but he expects more to follow.
“I am urging my colleagues who are at the helm of other colleges and universities around the nation to join me in calling on President Obama to show more leadership on this issue and, if possible, to join Marygrove in our pledge of housing, food, education and security,” he said.
Earlier this month, Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to help handle the surge of young immigrants. Since the fall, 57,000 children have crossed the border alone, fleeing drug violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Marygrove would consider housing youth between the ages of 16 and 24 in excess beds in the college’s newly renovated residence hall, a former convent that could have up to 20 rooms available on one floor. Fike called for the president to rescind a decision to speed deportation of the children.
Fike’s wife, Sylvia Rosales-Fike, an advocate for immigrant and refugee rights, called for Obama to remember that in the Bible, Joseph and Mary took their child out of Bethlehem to Egypt, seeking refuge from persecution.
“Jesus was a child, a child who fled with his parents,” she said.