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Bishop attends ICE meeting for mother fearing separation from sick child


  • Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, prays with Maria De Loera and her 8-year-old daughter, Alia, Aug. 7. Immediately after praying with the mother and daughter, Bishop Seitz went to ICE's El Paso headquarters to stand in for Maria and with her attorney ask for her deportation order to be reconsidered. De Loera, the child's only caretaker, was granted a six-month stay from deportation Aug. 8. (CNS photo/courtesy Dylan Corbett, Hope Border Institute)
  • Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, speaks to reporters before attending an Aug. 7 meeting with immigration officials to try to stop the imminent deportation of Maria De Loera, whose 8-year-daughter is in a Texas hospital being treated for bone cancer. De Loera, the child's only caretaker, was granted a six-month stay from deportation Aug. 8. (CNS photo/courtesy Dylan Corbett, Hope Border Institute)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- After hearing about the plight of a cancer-stricken child whose mother was facing imminent deportation, a U.S. border bishop, Texas Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, decided to pay the pair a visit at the hospital.

On Aug. 7, he prayed at a Texas hospital with bed-ridden 8-year-old Alia Escobedo, suffering from bone cancer, and her mother Maria De Loera, the child's only caretaker, before heading to a meeting with immigration officials -- a hearing in which the mother was to report for deportation but one which the bishop attended in her place.

"I was informed about the situation over the weekend, I'd heard rumblings," said Bishop Seitz in an Aug. 7 phone interview with Catholic News Service. "As a parish priest, one of the most rewarding ministries was through the sick. I always felt close to children who were sick."

At the hospital, he said, he read Scriptures with the mother and daughter, who are Catholic, and prayed. He said he tried to reassure the mother that there were a lot of people trying to help.

"It was a pleasure to be able to meet them and hopefully bring a bit of a consolation to this young child," he said. "They're amazingly resilient. This mom had her husband killed in (Ciudad) Juarez, escaped to El Paso running for her life. When she came here, her youngest daughter was diagnosed with bone cancer."

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