Marchers set out from Liberty State Park in Jersey City this morning, with Ellis Island in the background, on a walk intended to highlight the need for immigration reform.About 60 marchers gathered at Liberty State Park in Jersey City this morning -- in front of the foot bridge to Ellis Island -- before setting out on a 10-mile walk intended to highlight the need for immigration reform.
The day-long event, called "Ellis Island Is Closed," began with a news conference and interfaith prayer service before most participants -- immigrant rights activists and family members who have been affected by immigration policy and detention practices -- began the walk to the Elizabeth Detention Center.
"Today's immigrants are no different from my great-grandparents in that they come here to work and make a better life for their families," Kathy O'Leary of Pax Christi NJ, coordinator of the day's events, said.
According to a news release, the organizers are hoping for new oversight and an overhaul of the U.S. immigration policy and particularly wants to see community-based alternatives to detention as well as judicial discretion in the deportation of people with family ties in America.
Leroy Montel, a client of the American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights program, said in French that much of his extended family, including his brother and several cousins, were deported to back to their native Haiti and face very difficult conditions, as do the wives and children that were left here in the United States.
Liz Estes, a resident of Highland Park, said she didn't mind braving the cold for a few hours to march the stretch from Jersey City to Elizabeth.
"It's cold in the detention centers," said the member of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, which has become active in fighting for immigration reform in recent years, after several congregants were either detained or affected by current immigration policies. "It's a small amount of discomfort compared to what people in detention centers encounter every day."
The event is part of a new nationwide mobilization of people of faith for immigration reform called "Together, not Torn: Families Can't Wait for Immigration Reform," which includes 100 local events over the next month in states across the country.
After leaving the shadow of Ellis Island -- where millions of immigrants made their way into the United States -- the marchers were expected to make several stops along their route to Elizabeth including Assumption/All Saints Church and the Islamic Center in Jersey City.
By Karina Arrue/The Jersey Journal via Jornal.us