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Antonio Illas Handed In His Immigration Agent’s Badge In Exchange For A Priest’s Collar

Jennifer Wing
Father Anontio Illas of Saint Matthew-San Mateo Episcopal Church in Auburn, Wash. In his previous life, he was a U.S. immigration agent. Today his work involves helping undocumented workers.

This story originally aired on April 29, 2017.

We are changing all of the time. We are shaped by new experiences, people we meet, the work that we do. You might start a career thinking you love what you do - and years later have a completely different opinion.


This is what happened to Father Antonio Illas. He is the pastor for Saint Matthew-San Mateo Episcopal Church in Auburn, Wash. But for more than two decades, Illas was an immigration agent for the U.S. Federal Government.


“It was very rewarding trying to remove or put behind bars someone who would make life miserable for other human beings. As a young agent, at the end of the day, I felt one was doing the right thing — locking up people who did bad bad things out there,” said Illas.


In this story, we tell you how Illas went from being a man of the law, to a man of faith heading up a church that helps the poor, the disenfranchised and the undocumented.



Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.