Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently conducted a large-scale workplace raid in Bean Station, Tennessee, a rural community that overwhelmingly voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.
However, many community members who backed Trump nonetheless found themselves disturbed at the way that ICE had gone about rounding up immigrant families — and now they’re rethinking their past hard-line stance on immigration.
In a lengthy report published by The New Yorker, some local residents say that raids such as the one in their community go against their deeply held Christian values.
“I’m a Christian; God loves everybody equally,” 50-year-old Hank Smith told the publication. “And I never had a problem with anyone being here… immigration didn’t really affect me before. But then this raid happened.”
Pastor David Williams, who leads the local Hillcrest Baptist Church, says he’s seen people in his congregation change their minds about the best way to deal with undocumented immigrants.
“You cannot be a true Christian if you ignore your neighbor in need,” he told the New Yorker. “The people in the middle have had their hearts soften because of the raid.”
As the New Yorker documents, the raid on immigrant workers was particularly traumatic for many people in the nearby town of Morristown, Tennessee, where “more than five hundred students were reported absent from area schools” the day after the raid.
Deborah, a 44-year-old Trump voter, said that while she has conflicting views on immigration, she didn’t hesitate to help out her community members who were affected by the ICE raid.
“I never understood all the technicalities of what it takes to become a legalized resident,” she told the New Yorker. “How can I judge what I don’t understand?”