Immigration is once again taking center stage here in Mid-Michigan.
On Thursday, TV5 learned dozens of undocumented children could likely be coming to Bay City. Meanwhile, after weeks of protest against a similar possibility in Vassar, some are now speaking out in support of those children and rallied to welcome the possibility of children being housed in their town.
The Wolverine Human Services facility is at the center of one of the hottest debates our country faces. Should we house undocumented children or send them back?
"America is about justice, freedom, and we definitely welcome refugee children here," said Adonis Flores of Michigan United.
"I don't feel that they should bring people all the way across the country and house them up here," said Vassar resident Jim Garrow.
A group of more than 100 people, including religious leaders, met Thursday and urged the community to roll out the welcome mat.
"Our community is really being offered an opportunity to live up to who we are, Christians, followers of Jesus," said Sr. Ellen Rinke of St. Frances X Catholic Church in Vassar.
Grace Lutheran Church had an interfaith vigil for the community and the refugee children if they do in fact come. As TV5 has reported extensively, the Wolverine Resource Center is currently negotiating terms with the federal government to be a temporary stop for up to 60 undocumented immigrant children. Children who have escaped violence in Central America seeking refuge in the United States. It has been an issue that has led to several protests in the community.
"I don't want to see it. Don't want to see it, we can't afford to have it. It's not bringing nothing to our community," said Vassar resident Ed Law.
On Thursday night, pastors and religious leaders called for compassion and good will, urging residents to focus on the needs of the refugees.
"We need to come together and support ourselves as we take that risk for God," said Paul Werner, a Minister at Grace Lutheran Church.
And as this controversy continues both locally and nationally, those at the vigil said they hope it doesn't crumble the community.
"The big problem is we're getting pulled, the town's getting pulled into a political battle. And this town's not capable of making political decisions at that level," said Vassar resident Paul Wojno.
Faith leaders also called on lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform to better deal with these situations in the future.
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