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3/5 in #NJ: Day-Long Series of Events on #AshWednesday including Pilgrimage from #EllisIsland to the Elizabeth Detention Center

March 4, 2014

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Kathy O’Leary, Pax Christi NJ (English)       973-610-1684    

Vera Parra, PICO-NJ (English & Spanish)     917-519-7656    


Clergy, Faith Leaders, Youth and Activists calling for the Dismantling of the Detention and Deportation Machine that Feeds the Prison Industrial Complex

New Jersey– On Wednesday March 5th, people from across New Jersey representing over a dozen faith based, community youth and immigrant rights groups, including members from Pax Christi NJ, First Friends, PICO-NJ, American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program, Wind of the Spirit and NJ Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, will gather in four different cities, Camden, Elizabeth, Jersey City and Newark to call for the dismantling of the detention and deportation machine that is feeding the prison industrial complex.  For the fifth year in a row a group of pilgrims and well wishers will gather in Liberty State Park in Jersey City in front of the bridge to Ellis Island.  The pilgrims will walk from Ellis Island, one of our nation’s most powerful symbols of hope and freedom, to a symbol of fear and imprisonment, the Elizabeth Detention Center. This series of events is called “Sowing Injustice, Reaping Sorrow”.  Participants will be drawing attention to the interconnectedness of our county’s projection of military and economic power abroad with the flow of migrants and the way in which the detention and deportation machine feeds the prison industrial complex, tearing apart families in the process.

Who: Community & faith leaders, immigrant rights activists, community members, family of current detainees, former detainees and their families. Including: The Most Rev. Bernard Hebda, Presiding Co-Adjutor Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark; The Most Reverend Thomas A. Donato, DD, Regional Bishop for Hudson County of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark; Yves Nibungco, chairperson Anakbayan USA; Ana Bonilla Martinez, organizer, Wind of the Spirit; Luke Nephew, spoken word artist and member The Peace Poets.

What: Vigils, rallies and protests including prayer, music and testimony to call attention to our country’s foreign policies that force people to migrate, to call for a halt to the detentions and deportations that are tearing apart families and to call for an end to prison profiteering.

Where & When:

  • Jersey City– 10:00 AM, Vigil- Freedom Way, Liberty State Park;
    • 11:30 Protest- Hudson County Administration Bldg. 595 Newark Ave.;
    • 12:00 Vigil – St. Peter’s University, Panepinto Plaza 47 Glenwood Ave.
  • Newark 1:30 PM, Prayer Svc., St. James Church, 142 Jefferson St.;
    • 2:00 PM Rally Sen Booker’s & Sen Menenez’s offices One Gateway Center;
    • 3:00 PM Protest- Rodino Federal Bldg. 970 Broad St.;
    • 4:00 PM Protest – Essex County Hall of Records, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
    • 7:00 PM Public statement against for-profit incarceration at Board of Chosed Freeholders Meeting, Essex County Hall of Records, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Rm 506
  •  Elizabeth 5:00 PM, Protest against Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, Union County Courthouse, 2 Broad St.
    • 6:00 PM, Prayer service./distribution of ashes – Elizabeth Detention Center, 625 Evans St.
  • Camden- 12:05 PM- Mass, Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, 642 Market St.
    • 1:00PM- Press Conf with family of released detainee, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 642 Market St.

The pilgrims will be received at the annual vigil at the Elizabeth Detention Center, a for-profit facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) where ICE first started incarcerating immigrants in NJ almost two decades ago.  This will be the 18th year that the vigil will be held in Elizabeth.


Organizers are seeking to draw attention to the conflict between our economic and immigration policies.  Gene Squeo a member of the board of Pax Christi NJ explained “The free flow of goods and capital is celebrated while the migration of people who are often victims of trade policies, is restricted and punished.  This indifference to the suffering of people for the benefit of trade and commerce is a violation of the dignity of the human person.”


“Western society continues to worship the myth of prosperity and privilege assuming that those who are wealthy and powerful deserve the spoils of their oppression while blaming the poor for their poverty.  We need to stop punishing people who, if given true sovereignty, would stay in their home countries,” said Yves Nibungo, chairperson of Anakbayan-USA, a Filipino progressive youth movement.


Organizers like Fr. Ronald Lemmert, a Catholic priest and the former Catholic chaplain at Sing-Sing Prison, say that the detention and deportation machine is an extension of the prison industrial complex both of which are causing tremendous suffering and tearing apart families.  “Just like the harsh sentences attributed to the ‘war on drugs’ the criminalization of migration is allowing  county governments and for-profit companies to generate revenue off of the suffering of human beings.  For the same reason that the Obama administration is calling for a rollback of the harsh punishment under the drug laws, they should also be calling for a rollback of the harsh punishment of immigrants by eliminating the detention and halting the deportations of families.”


The event is organized by Pax Chrisit NJ and co-sponsored by: First Friends; PICO-NJ; NJ Communities United; Action 21; American Friends Service Committee – Immigrant Rights Program, Newark; Casa Esperanza; Wind of the Spirit; Sister of Charity of St. Elizabeth; St. Joseph’s Social Service Center; Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless; Anakbayan-USA; St. Peter’s University Social Justice Program; Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast;  Middlesex County Coalition of Immigrant Rights; Peruvian American Coalition; Justice for Immigrants Task Force-Archdiocese of Newark, and the Shrine of St. Joseph.


About Pax Christi

Pax Christi USA is a national Catholic organization, representing the Catholic peace with justice movement in the United States. Pax Christi reaches over a half-million Catholics directly every year with over 400 local groups throughout the United States, over 100 bishop members, 700 parish sponsors, 600 religious communities, and 50 college and high school chapters.

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