NEWARK: A man facing possible deportation had some notable names in his corner ahead of a meeting with federal immigration authorities on Friday, including several dozen clergy members who showed their support by marching to a federal building in Newark.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, leader of New Jersey's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, was among the clergy who led a rally for supporters of Catalino Guerrero on Friday morning, along with New Jersey U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.
Organizers said the 59-year-old Guerrero came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico in 1991 and has worked ever since, owns his house and has no criminal record. The grandfather of four applied for a work permit several years ago, but filled out a form incorrectly, they said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials summoned Guerrero last month and told him to plan to surrender his passport on March 10, Guerrero's supporters said this week.
An ICE spokesman said in an email Thursday that Guerrero, "a Mexican national unlawfully present, was ordered removed from the United States in 2009 by an immigration judge. Guerrero remains free from custody and must periodically report to ICE as a condition of his release."
Tobin has been critical of President Donald Trump's immigration policies. Last month, he called Trump's executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries "misbegotten" and said it was "playing on irrational fears of people."
Tobin said lawmakers should focus on fixing immigration laws rather than on large-scale deportation.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a steady stream of criticisms of Trump's restrictions on refugees and immigrants. Through Catholic Charities and other programs, American bishops consistently resettle the largest number of refugees annually in the U.S. and provide support nationwide for immigrants.
Other faith groups are mobilizing their congregations to fight Trump's policies, including a network of 37 Protestant and Orthodox denominations that work with the aid group Church World Service. Hundreds of houses of worship around the country have joined the sanctuary movement, which provides support or housing to people facing deportation.
Among others leading protests are U.S. Muslim and Jewish groups, including the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest American synagogue movement.