Rumor of ICE raids leaves empty pews at Hispanic church on Sunday

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other agencies continue days of raids and arrests targeting undocumented immigrants, the threat of deportation looms heavily over metro immigrants.

Many undocumented workers who attend Sacred Heart Guadalupe parish in Kansas City stayed home, fearing they would be detained and deported.

Sacred Heart leaders said someone spread a rumor that federal agents were going to raid the church on Sunday. The rumor turned out not to be true, but it did cause a lot of panic among parishioners.

From photos, you can see that church services at Sacred Heart Guadalupe is usually packed. That was not the case on Sunday.

For years, Raisa Guevara has attended the church. Over the weekend, she and church leaders heard about a letter that spread like wildfire on social media.

The letter said on Sunday, federal agents with ICE would raid all Hispanic churches in Kansas City, including Sacred Heart, arresting all undocumented immigrants.

As a result, this church that usually attracts 500 families for two Masses, only had about 100 total.

"For me, not for myself, but I was afraid for my worship community. You know, they're my family," Guevara said.

A spokesperson for ICE said the supposed raid, which may have been posted on Facebook by an immigration attorney in Ohio, was not true.

Under the agency's "sensitive location" policy, agents would rarely carry out such an operation at a church.

In the meantime, Sacred Heart Guadalupe's leaders have called and emailed their parishioners, and are praying they'll return to church.

"It's so unnecessary, and it hurts people. It hurts families. You know, we just have to have faith in God that everything's going to work out," said Ramona Arroyo with Sacred Heart Guadalupe Parish.

Church leaders said they think now all those people know the truth, and they hope to see them back at church on Sunday.

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