Marshall County Women See Border Crisis Firsthand

Sep 6, 2019
Seth Tackett, WIFU/WTIU News

Some of the people on the front lines of the border crisis are volunteers who are donating their time to help migrants as they attempt to find a future in America.

Data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the agency apprehended nearly 72,000 people along the southwest border just last month.

Several sisters from the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ based out of Donaldson, Ind. volunteered earlier this summer with an El Paso non-profit called Annunciation House. It runs several shelters for migrants who’ve been released by ICE and are awaiting court dates where they will eventually learn whether they can stay in the country.

We spoke to the sisters about what they saw, and what they think people should know about the ongoing immigration crisis.


The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ dedicate their lives to serving God, and see helping the poor and powerless in their searches for justice as part of their mission.

Several sisters traveled to El Paso earlier this year to volunteer with Annunication House. They served varying roles: helping migrants get new clothes and shoes at a warehouse, greeting buses of migrants arriving at shelters and making lunches for families to take on the remainder of their journeys. 

Sister Loretta Schleper says it was important for her to see firsthand what was happening there. 

"I wanted to see how we could make a difference for the people there, to see what the issues really were," she says. 

Schleper served as a driver and also manned a lookout point while she volunteered. It was her job to keep an eye out for new buses of migrants coming in.

While Annunciation House says it was receiving as many as 1,000 refugees a day in the spring, those numbers have dropped to between 100 and 300 a day. The organization's website says that’s likely because of a boost in enforcement efforts at the border. It says the implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols, which sends asylum seekers back to Mexico, is also having an impact. 

Sister Jolise May was stationed at a hotel in El Paso where Annunciation House provided shelter for migrant families. She says many arrived in a daze, unsure of what their future held.

But they all had a similar motivation for making the dangerous trek from their home countries to America. 

"That was the story one after the other -- 'This is for my child, there is no future, there is no education, there is no money, I'm doing this for my child,'" May says.

One of Sister Edith Schneider's responsibilities was accompanying families to bus stations, which was the beginning of another long journey for many of them. Sponsors buy families tickets to different destinations in America, where they will wait until their court dates that determine whether they can stay in the country. Schneider says many of the families traveled with no phones or money, and just a small bag of belongings. 

"They are gentle, poor people escaping violence," Schneider says. "And what they have to endure, who of us would endure? Whether it's trekking through Mexico, or that three or four day bus trip with a plastic bag to hold my belongings. Who of us would endure that?"


Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo/File

Friday the Indiana State Department of Health announced that an adult died September 5 from severe lung injury linked to a history of vaping. 

Annacaroline Caruso

South Bend, Mishawaka, and St. Joseph County officials discussed a proposal Thursday night to fund the county’s 911 Dispatch Center by pulling money from other agencies, like local libraries, public transit and the South Bend Airport. 


The Indiana State Department of Health announced a grant that will go toward improving the state’s review process of maternal deaths.  

Indiana has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. In 2018, lawmakers established a review committee to examine the reasons why. 

This new funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will allow ISDH to better support the committee and its recommendations.


U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson says opportunity zones are helping revitalize communities in the Hoosier State and across the country.

Carson and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) toured a major opportunity zone project in Indianapolis Thursday.

Opportunity zones are low-income areas where investments and developments are eligible for federal tax breaks. There are 156 in Indiana, including one in Indianapolis that’s home to an abandoned factory campus. Carson says it will become two charter schools and a pair of housing complexes.

Robert Bumsted/AP Photo


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Bills going to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would make it a state-level crime in Michigan to steal mail, including packages left on doorsteps.

The Legislature gave final approval to the legislation Thursday. It is a bid to combat rising reports of thefts as people who increasingly shop online are targeted by "porch pirates."

Supporters say the measures are needed because ID thieves and package stealers are not being punished under federal laws, and there are gaps in existing state laws related to the theft of checks.


Two Indiana military construction projects are among those on hold because the Trump administration is diverting $3.6 billion in funding to help pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Pentagon released a list of the funding cuts Wednesday.

Justin Hicks/WVPE

LIFT Academy in Indianapolis has announced it’s registered a new apprenticeship program with the U.S. Department of Labor. It will train new aviation maintenance technicians and pay them for their time. 

The first cohort of maintenance technicians will be limited to only 6 people and takes about three years to complete. Once licensed, the apprentices will be guaranteed a job with Republic Airways.

Amazon Opens New Facility In Indiana

Sep 5, 2019
Richard Drew/AP Photo/File


GREENWOOD, Ind. (AP) — Online retail giant Amazon has opened a new packaging center in suburban Indianapolis.

Seattle-based Amazon this week officially opened the so-called fulfilment center after last year signing a lease in Greenwood, where a FedEx distribution center was planned before that company backed out. Amazon earlier said it was hiring more than 1,000 full-time workers for the facility.

Greenwood's council approved tax breaks on property taxes for the building and equipment.

Annacaroline Caruso

Poetry readings took place in about 45 cities across the United States Wednesday night to raise money for immigrants in need. Local poets gathered in South Bend to participate.

Officers Shoot At Suspect On The Toll Road

Sep 4, 2019

Efforts to capture a suspect Wednesday afternoon on the Toll Road turned violent and dangerous. You can read the release from Indiana State Police about what happened in its entirety here.

Jill Sheridan/IPB News

An interim public health committee met for the first time to discuss the high cost of health care in the state.

Hoosiers are paying more for healthcare than ever and according to a recent study, more than many other states. The reasons vary and include access, hospital consolidation, aging population, lack of large employers and poor population health. 

But President and CEO of Employers’ Forum of Indiana Gloria Sachdev says the study points to another reason. 


The state will receive $21 million over the next three years to prevent drug overdose deaths.

The money from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be used to improve data collection, increase prescription drug monitoring and provide harm reduction training. 

READ MORE: Report: Indiana Losing Out On Federal Opioid Funding

Annacaroline Caruso

Nearly 20 years after it’s initial proposal, Indeck Energy broke ground on a $1 billion natural gas energy center in Niles, Michigan. 

Advanced Energy Job Sector Growing in Indiana

Sep 4, 2019
Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The national business group Advanced Energy Economy is reporting a 4 percent growth in Indiana jobs last year. That means more Hoosiers than ever are working in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Most of the jobs are located in Marion County and the fastest growing sector was in advanced vehicles. It saw 18 percent more jobs last year than the year before.