Catholics Protest Separation of Migrant Families in Act of Civil Disobedience

Tags: Currents Uncategorized

By Emily Drooby

Catholics laid out on the ground, forming a cross and blocking traffic in one of Newark, New Jersey’s busiest intersections, refusing to move until they were arrested.

The peaceful act of civil disobedience, which started with prayer and a march, was done in support of migrant children. Protestors were condemning the Trump administration’s treatment of these children, specifically policies that separate children from their families.

Fellow protesters gathered around them in solidarity as Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark prayed.  

The demonstration is part of national campaign created by a coalition of Catholic organizations who are mobilizing the faithful and asking politicians to find and implement ways of keeping undocumented children safe. Many of the participants mentioned poor facility conditions and even child deaths as inspiration for their activism. 

“I’m not a lifelong person who is used to participating in civil disobedience. But i really do feel passionately that these kids need every advantage in life, and there has to be some symbolic way of saying, ‘I stand with you,'” said Sister Mary Kay Dobrovolny, who was part of that symbolic cross. 

She traveled all the way from Detroit, Michigan, to participate in the protest. Others, like Father Edward Mason, came from the Diocese of Brooklyn.

“Our values are better than this. Our country was built on the strength of families, and this type of behavior towards families, separation of families, goes against everything we have preached, lived, since the beginning,” the pastor of Mary, Mother of the Church parish explained. 

Cardinal Tobin also explained that this issue is important to all religions – especially Catholicism. 

“It’s not simply a benevolent action, it’s recognized in the face of the God we worship in these suffering people, that’s why it’s important to us.,” he said.

In the summer of 2018, President Trump signed an executive order to end his controversial policy that resulted in family separations. Since then, the president has said that his administration will keep families together, but that the White House will remain tough on illegal immigration.