Here are Pax Christi USA groups around the country who are standing up for peace and justice and saying no to detaining immigrants, especially in the most horrid of conditions. See what members are doing in Little Rock, Massachusetts, and New Jersey below.
Pax Christi Little Rock
by Sherry Simon, Pax Christi USA Regional Leader in Little Rock, Arkansas
Around 85 people showed up for our vigil [for an end to child detention] in Morris Hall at the diocese. It was a wonderful time of prayer, reflection, music, personal testimony and call to action. Check out the story in the Diocese of Little Rock newspaper.
Pax Christi Massachusetts
Pax Christi Central Massachusetts raised awareness about child detention by standing in the Common of Westboro, MA.
Pax Christi Massachusetts and the Agape Community teamed up to end the detention of immigrant children in solidarity with the Catholic Day of Action that happened in Washington D.C. on July 18.
For over 20 years Pax Christi NJ has been advocating for an end to immigration detention in New Jersey. Our state is a border state (anywhere there is a port of entry is a border) and is fifth in the nation in the number of immigrants in detention within our borders.
by Kathy O’Leary, Pax Christi USA Regional Leader in New Jersey
For over 20 years Pax Christi NJ has been advocating for an end to immigration detention in New Jersey. Our state is fifth in the nation in the number of immigrants in detention within our borders.
On any given day 2500 immigrants are in detention in one of four facilities, the Elizabeth Detention Center, run by the for-profit CoreCivic (formerly CCA) and three county jails, Bergen County, Essex County and Hudson County. All of these facilities incarcerate immigrants for the same reason- the money. The county jails fill gaps in their budgets or pay for things like parks and zoos for their residents. So essentially they are buying votes with blood money.
The Essex County Executive Joe Divincenzo completed a new jail located in a highly industrialized area on the outskirts of the City of Newark in 2003 or 2004 when he was first elected. This was a high priority because his intention was to generate revenue from the jail. One way is to rent out beds to the federal government. The county began detaining people for ICE in 2008.
In 2010, as a part of an effort to hold immigrant detainees in “less penal” conditions, DHS announced its first new detention contract. It was with the Essex County Jail and the adjacent for-profit facility Delaney Hall, then owned by CEC now owned by GEO Group. The average number of people in detention in Essex County was slated to increase from 500 to 1,250. It currently fluctuates between 800 and 900.
Essex County currently makes between $40 to $50 million per year on this contract. That is what a per diem of $117/person comes out to. The money goes into general funds and has been used, in part for the expansion of the Turtle Back Zoo.
Freeholder is the term NJ uses for county commissioner. This board passes county ordinances and approves the county budget. Freeholder is a bit of a controversial term because it refers to people who hold land free and clear of any debt. Based on the time that this term originates from only free white men would have been in this position.
This is Pax Christi NJ singing at the freeholder meeting to protest the detainment of immigrants. All but one of the freeholders left when they began singing.