West. Ky. Hispanic Community On Alert Since Trump's Tweet On Deporting Immigrants

Jun 20, 2019

Deacon Cristobal Gutierrez, seated at center, director of the Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky, volunteering at the Catholic Charities shelter in Laradeo, Texas.
Credit Cristobal Gutierrez

President Donald Trump’s recent tweet about plans to deport “millions of illegal aliens” has put immigrants across the nation on edge. A Catholic pastor in western Kentucky said the administration's comments about deportation has put the Hispanic community in the region on alert.

Deacon Cristobal Gutierrez is director of the Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Owensboro that covers 32 counties in western Kentucky. There are about 30,000 Hispanic residents in the diocese, according to the 2010 census.

Gutierrez said some families in the diocese have members who are undocumented, so President Trump’s announcement about deporting millions of illegal immigrants has the Hispanic community in the region on the lookout for enforcement actions.

“This goes through Telemundo and Univision on TV, so they’re very aware of what’s going on, so yes, there is that fear factor,” said Gutierrez.

Deacon Cristobal Gutierrez, director of the Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky, at right, recently volunteered at the U.S./Mexico border with the Diocese of Laredo, Texas.
Credit Cristobal Gutierrez

But so far, Gutierrez said, Hispanic families are continuing to take part in community activities,  but if agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or  ICE, begin to make arrests, many immigrants will stop going to public places for fear of being deported.

“But it’s just a matter of when we have ICE show up in one location that immediately sparks that fear and participation in different programs and different things, that’s when that happens, and that has happened in the past,” he said.

Gutierrez recently volunteered at the U.S./Mexico border with the Diocese of Laredo, Texas and said that every day he assisted immigrants fleeing gangs and violence that put their lives in danger. Gutierrez said, in his opinion, the U.S. immigration system is broken and lawmakers should focus on immigration reform.  

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