Immigration Circle of Support

The Immigration Circle of Support at St. Regis Catholic Church engages the parish and its’ resources in education, support, and service of immigrants in need of our help who reside in metropolitan Detroit.


What we do


ICOS periodically engages speakers to raise awareness of the needs and challenges of immigration life. We have hosted an immigration lawyer, inner-city school counselor, and a DACA recipient, among others. We’ve learned about families not fifteen miles away facing the dual pressures of dire poverty and deportation; of a middle-school girl who works a midnight shift cleaning bars to help her family; of children who hear loud and clear the message that they are unwanted and unworthy; of a young teen fleeing death threats from a Salvadorian gang; of mothers so desperate for financial support after their husbands are deported that they move their families in with men who abuse them. Each story reminds us of Jesus’ call to action: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome. (Mt. 25:35)


Future talks will be advertised in the bulletin and open to all who are interested


Accompaniment is a personal and spiritual act of “being with” or “walking alongside” someone in need.  Accompaniment of our local immigrants takes many forms—spending time in conversation, driving someone to court, even hanging curtains. These simple acts can have profound effects. Each encounter is an opportunity for growth, connection, and affirmation of our shared humanity. All parishioners, whether part of ICOS or not, are welcome and encouraged to engage in acts of accompaniment, either as a one-off or as an ongoing commitment. To get involved, see “How You Can Help.”

Community Engagement / Advocacy
  • Freedom House — Furnish Homes for those seeking Asylum
  • Earhart Middle School in Southwest Detroit — Supply goods and shoes while exploring further engagement with St. Regis School.
  • Strangers No Longer — St. Regis is one of the many parishes within the Archdiocese of Detroit working with this organization to care and advocate for immigrants in the Archdiocese. Welcoming and acceptance of strangers in our society is a  fundamental principle of Catholic School Teaching.

ICOS Events

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Catholic Church teach about helping migrants?

Pope Francis continually reminds us of the importance of how we treat “the least of us,” and often uses images of migrants as a face of “the least.” The Old and New Testaments teach us that if we are going to be in a relationship with God, we must take care of those in the margins of society. In the Old Testament, commitment to God’s covenant is expressed in how we treat the widow, orphan, and the migrant. The New Testament shows Jesus reaching out to those society rejects.


The Catholic Church has a very strong principle on the dignity of all human life – the unborn, elderly, and those with special needs. That principle leads us to say that no matter how people come the United States, their basic human dignity must be respected and we have an obligation to them. Our commitment to every human life has to be equally strong to migrants as it is to the unborn and elderly.

– Fr. David Buersmeyer

For further information:

Is this a political group?

St Regis ICOS is a service ministry with no affiliation to any political groups or agendas. From the beginning we intentionally decided to avoid politics of the immigration debate and focus solely on helping the undocumented individuals of Southeast Michigan. This group, as with the wider parish community, is home to people with varying political viewpoints, and so we try to be respectful of our differences while keeping our focus on those that need assistance.

Why not focus on current citizens in need? Why help those who are here illegally?

Certainly we need to help the poor. We help all people in need; however, it is never “either/or,” it is always “both/and.”


Each of us cannot help everyone. We need a variety of people in groups who focus on different areas.

– Fr. David Buersmeyer

Is helping undocumented people going to encourage more migrants to enter the country?

Massive pain, violence, and poverty pushes people out of their homes and towns in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and parts of Mexico. The help that a few undocumented people receive on this side of the border is incomparable to the pain, violence and poverty they are fleeing, and the difficulties, sickness, gang and police threats along the way. Additionally, the treatment migrants receive at the border and in detention is well-known throughout Central America – but does not compare to the forces pushing them to flee their homes. Finally, there is a constitutional mandate (and an internationally accepted standard) to receive people who are applying for asylum and to allow them to prove their case. Many of the migrants we try to help are those who have legally applied for asylum: they are not undocumented people. My experience of “undocumented people” is that nearly all have been here 10, 15, and 20 years living peaceful and productive lives that contribute to our communities in many ways; i.e., they are not recent arrivals.

– Bill O’Brien
(Coordinator, Strangers No Longer)

Is it illegal to help undocumented people?

The answer is more specifically relevant to sanctuary and harboring. The Sixt Circuit in the Federal Court of Appeals [has jurisdiction over Michigan] construes harbor to mean “… clandestinely shelter, succor, and protect improperly admitted aliens…” In the 6th Circuit to be guilty of harboring, a person must harbor the undocumented individual secretly or in hiding.


Often when a church decides to assist immigrants or hold themselves out as sanctuary churches they do so publicly to make a statement; therefore, it is not clandestine.

-Melanie Goldberg

(Michigan Chapter Chair American Immigration Lawyers Association)

Want to get involved?