Catholics protesting the detention and separation of thousands of migrant children and families in the U.S. formed human crosses in the middle of Broad Street in Newark, outside of the regional headquarters of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Police tried to discourage the display — albeit unsuccessfully.
The protest comes after a scathing report issued by the Inspector General of the federal Department of Health and Human Services concluded that migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border last year suffered severe post-traumatic stress and other serious mental-health problems.
“I hope it gets somebody’s attention and the whole world starts waking up to caring about people. That’s what I hope,” said protester Trudi Gazzi.
Following a prayer service at St. Mary’s Church, hundreds marched a few blocks downtown to the federal building, condemning how their country treats migrants along the way.
“I think one of the primary hopes of today is to be able to show the real face of these categories that are battered around in terribly harmful rhetoric,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Newark archbishop, who was among the protesters.
At the ICE office, speakers, including an unauthorized man who came to the U.S. 20 years ago with his parents from Mexico, urged an end to the detaining of migrants.
The Newark ICE office issued a statement, saying the agency “fully respects the Constitutional rights of all people to peacefully express their opinions. That being said, ICE remains committed to performing its immigration enforcement mission consistent with federal law and agency policy.”