Pope to address immigration during visit to U.S.-Mexican border

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Pope Francis is expected to address immigration when he visits the U.S.-Mexican border this week. (WLS)

Pope Francis is expected to address immigration during his visit Wednesday to the U.S.-Mexican border, as well as pay respects to those who died trying to cross into the United States.

People in Chicago who work with immigrants will be paying attention to his message.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he does have some type of surprise," said Ana Guajardo, executive director of Immigrant Workers' Project, a group that helps Mexican immigrants with labor issues in the South Chicago neighborhood.

Guajardo and Mary Claire Schmit, who also works for the project, can't wait to head to the Mexican border town Cuidad Juarez to see Pope Francis.

"I think it will definitely be a very surreal experience. I never thought that I would see a Pope in my lifetime" Schmit said. "To be able to actually go to the border and see what's happening in person I think is going to have a huge impact on me."

Guajardo said she hopes the Pope's visit to Juarez will help the U.S. and Mexico "come to some type of agreement where they can try to figure out solutions to the immigration issue"

An immigration statement is just part of Pope Francis' historic trip to the U.S.-Mexico border. He will also meet with prisoners and address working people at a local college before the week's big moment --- a mass at the border.

"He is going to stand in the shoes of those who have approached that border with hope and fear and to express his deep love and solidarity with those people," said Joe Boland, vice president of Mission Diocese, Catholic Extension.

The Chicago-based Catholic Extension which recently took a group of Chicago priests to the border, is helping organize the Pope's border trip with the Diocese of El Paso.

As part of the mass, Pope Francis will bless a group of VIPs gathered on the U.S. side of the border from across the fence.

"This is really a pilgrimage, and for so many people and immigrants, especially immigrants and descendants of immigrants from Chicago," Boland said. "Their Ellis Island is the border."
Related Topics:
religionu.s. & worldmexicopopepope francisreligioncatholic churchimmigrationimmigration reformSouth Chicago
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