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Ohio Faith Leaders Arrested At CoreCivic After Attempting to Provide Pastoral Care to Immigrants

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Youngstown, OH – For months, religious leaders have tried to visit immigrant detainees to provide religious support at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, operated by CoreCivic, and been thwarted from doing so.  Today, instead of being allowed to minister to the individuals incarcerated here for CIVIL violations, five of our leaders were arrested.

See here for a video of Jamie Szittai White discussing the faith leader protest she and her husband helped organize outside the Youngstown immigration jail. Dustin and four other moral witnesses were arrested today.

The names and affiliations of the people arrested are:

The arrests followed an interfaith vigil organized by Radial Church, Interreligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia, and America’s Voice Ohio outside of the facility.  Photos and video from the event and arrests are available on the Facebook page here and @tramontela on Twitter.  Read more about the event here.

Speakers at the rally included:

  • Angie Perez, a U.S. citizen from Akron whose family members were detained at CoreCivic
  • Virgilio, an immigrant from Honduras who had been detained at CoreCivic
  • Pastor James Talbert, Citizens Akron
  • Chrissy Stonebraker-Martinez, InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia (MC)

Following are quotes from Ohioans participating in the vigil today:

Chrissy Stonebraker-Martinez, who emceed the event, said: “We say thank you to our family who stood up today to serve as moral witnesses and speak out against the human suffering taking place behind these walls.  No human is illegal.”

Virgilio, who had been detained at CoreCivic previously and is now working toward citizenship, said: “We come here just to work hard and help build this country.  We don’t want to make any trouble, we just want to do the right thing.”

Angie Perez also had a message for the men incarcerated inside the CoreCivic detention facility: “You are not ‘detainees.’  You are not ‘strangers.’ We are all prisoners. Prisoners of hope. And we have to work to make change.”