Over 400 participants — priests, nuns, activists, students and laypeople — on Sept 4 in Newark, New Jersey, protested the "inhumane treatment" and detention of children and families at immigration centers across the country. Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark led hundreds of Catholics in a demonstration against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Federal Building in Newark as the crowd chanted, "Stop the inhumanity."
Demonstrators took part in civil disobedience — blocking traffic as they occupied the busy Broad Street crosswalk, and lay in cross formation for hours. Attendees formed a protective circle around those risking arrest, and recited the rosary. Six demonstrators were taken into custody by the Newark police, among them a Benedictine postulant, Jacqueline Small.
"As a daughter and granddaughter of immigrants, as somebody who grew up here in Elizabeth, I feel very strongly for this important issue and to make our voices heard as loud as possible, that children and families belong together," she said before being arrested.
Small, who currently lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, wore a picture of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin around her neck. Maquin died after being taken into custody by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in December 2018. Small hoped that the presence of Catholic women religious at the protest would inspire more people to speak up.
The six were released shortly after.