Griffin Oleynick, one of those accompanying the asylum seekers, described a tense 30-minute stand-off with Border Patrol agents before the immigrants were allowed to enter the U.S. and apply for asylum.
Organizers credit the collaborative efforts of various Catholic coalitions for giving the movement a more coherent voice.
Kathy O’Leary, regional coordinator of Pax Christi New Jersey, has been an immigration activist for more than 20 years. She’s been working tirelessly to expose the dismal conditions of detention centers across New Jersey. O’Leary says that the groundswell of grassroots support for immigration reform wasn’t around a few years ago. But everything changed after the election of Donald Trump.
“President Obama’s immigration policies criminalized the community. It’s not just Trump. But now people are more active about the issue and are paying attention. So we get to educate them about the whole history of discriminatory immigration policy,” said O’Leary.
The organizers draw deeply from their Catholic faith and Pope Francis. “The basis of Catholic social teaching is that every human is a child of God. We need to be preferential towards the poor in everything we do,” said Nangle.
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