There’s a century-old red brick building that used to be a convent in Detroit, in the shadow of the Ambassador Bridge.
It’s next to the city’s oldest Roman Catholic Church, St. Anne’s. Inside that church is a rough-hewn box holding the bones of an immigrant who arrived without papers, a priest by the name of Gabriel Richard, one of the founders of the University of Michigan.
Inside the old convent are 40 living undocumented immigrants from 18 different countries, people who fled torture and murder, fled for their lives, and are here seeking asylum.
They are in less fear of deportation than most of our nation’s eleven million “illegal” immigrants. This is a place called Freedom House Detroit, and for more than 30 years, it has helped such folks win asylum in the United States and Canada.
That has become harder in recent years, and the refugees, who are usually destitute, are not allowed to work while they await a decision on their fate. But the ones in Freedom House nearly always win asylum in the end.
Our Constitution firmly establishes the right of victims of persecution to asylum.