Cincinnati group helping immigrant families stay together

CINCINNATI -- The Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy has created a new form of fear, according to Cincinnati's Su Casa Hispanic Center. 

"Our numbers from a year ago have increased about 20 percent, said Patrick Reynolds with Su Casa. "We find that people in the community are scared and more fearful to approach authorities, even to report crimes."

In 2017, Su Casa served about 2,000 people in greater Cincinnati, connecting them to community resources to help with rent assistance, food and clothing donations. 

Recently, the government has come under criticism for the practice of separating immigrant families attempting to enter the U.S. at the Mexican border. Children and their parents are held separately as the families seek asylum.

Locally, a group of churches has taken the help a step further through a "sanctuary congregation," offering immigrant families already in the U.S. a safe place to stay as they complete the process to citizenship without fear of detainment or deportation.

"A sanctuary congregation helps us to do the very thing that we're criticizing our government for not doing," said Rev. David Meredith with Clifton United Methodist Church.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said they're just following the law.

"We are enforcing the laws as they exist on the books," Nielsen said. "As long as illegal entry remains a criminal offense DHS will not look the other way."

Locally, Su Casa is offering "know your rights" cards for immigrant families. They said they want to keep families together.

"I've seen families be broken up already here by the increased deportation, and I've seen the trauma that it's taken on the children," said sanctuary team leader Nicole DeGreg.

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