Illegal immigration pits law vs. mercy: One minister’s passion for aliens (reporting from Chicago). Page 1 lead.

First Place (part of three-story portfolio), Magazine News Religion Reporting, Religion News Association

Finalist (part of three-story portfolio), Supple Feature Writer of the Year Award, Religion News Association

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

CHICAGO – On a dark street, a mother weeps.

At 4:45 a.m., she stands outside a two-story brick building surrounded by razor wire, her sobs drowning out the drum of machinery at a nearby factory.

The Spanish-speaking woman just said goodbye — through a glass panel at a federal deportation center west of Chicago — to her son Miguel, an illegal immigrant from Mexico.

A minister wearing a beige overcoat and a black knit cap rushes to comfort the mother and pray with her distraught family.

“This is why I come,” says the minister, Bobby Lawson, who pulled a white church van out of the Park Forest Church of Christ parking lot in Matteson, Ill., at 2:53 a.m. that Friday. “These families are getting ripped apart.”

Across the nation, debate rages over U.S. immigration policy — with Americans split on whether to crack down on illegal immigrants or create an amnesty process for undocumented aliens.

All the more Pleasant: For new basketball coach at Rochester College, following in his father’s footsteps presents a challenge, but it’s nothing compared to the test he endured off the court (reporting from Rochester Hills, Mich.). Second Front.

Popcorn, nachos … and sex talk (reporting from Russellville, Ky.). National.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane … it’s a scary thing. Inside Story.

This post highlights my stories in the March 2012 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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