Pro-immigrant activists in Chicago are celebrating a "Christmas miracle" after an area hospital said it will provide free treatment for undocumented immigrants lacking health insurance, including several who need urgent organ transplants.
"A real miracle has occurred because we didn't see this solution as possible by any means," the Rev. José Landaverde, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Mission in the mainly Mexican La Villita/Little Village neighborhood, told Efe on Wednesday.
Landaverde, members of his congregation and other religious groups, as well as activists fighting to unite families separated by deportations, held a Christmas "posada" ceremony on Sunday at Rush University Medical Center.
This promise of help gives hope to the rest of us to continue fighting.
- Lorenzo Arroyo
After walking for two hours, participants prayed the rosary at the hospital entrance to recall Mary and Joseph's search for lodging before the birth of Jesus.
"Many doors closed until one finally opened," said Landaverde, and in this case it was the hospital that agreed to receive them and offer help to them.
He said a Rush representative met with members of all the churches represented and promised to provide medical care for the uninsured undocumented immigrants, in particular those needing transplants.
"Jesus was born in a stable and salvation was his gift to the world. Those who are seriously ill are witnesses of the miracle that occurred during the Rush Hospital posada," he added.
Landaverde said that at least five undocumented families could benefit immediately, although a formal agreement has not yet been signed.
Rush's promise to help, he said, "will put pressure on other hospitals, who cannot now deny (medical) attention to undocumented people with serious illnesses."
Among the cases mentioned is that of Marcela Ortiz, 37, who suffers from leukemia and needs a $100,000 bone marrow transplant.
Also, brothers Elfego and Lorenzo Arroyo, both in their mid-30s, suffer from a rare hereditary illness known as amyloidosis and need liver transplants.
Their older brother Francisco received a liver transplant a month ago and is recovering at Rush. He is the only one of the brothers with his immigration papers in order.
"This promise of help gives hope to the rest of us to continue fighting," Lorenzo said.
Speaking about the disease they inherited from their mother, who died 14 months ago, he told Efe that it is a very aggressive condition.
The Guadalupe Mission has made a number of collection drives among the Mexican community to acquire funds to allow the Arroyo brothers to be taken care of, since they cannot work.
Elfego and Lorenzo currently are not receiving any kind of treatment, since Cook County Hospital, where most of the uninsured undocumented people in Chicago go for health care, curtailed its services due to budget cuts.