National News

Newark Cardinal Leads March for Immigrants

Cardinal Joseph Tobin leads a Jericho Walk to the federal building in Newark, N.J., earlier this month. Prayers were conducted for the safety and well-being of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Photo Matthew O’Connor

Cardinal Joseph Tobin lead a “Jericho Walk” in solidarity with immigrants’ silent prayers while walking around Federal headquarters in Newark, N.J. The walk is inspired by the battle of Jericho when a community’s faith was able to bring down the walls of the fortified city.

Cardinal Tobin called for justice as he prayed that the United States would remember the values upon which it was built.

“We pray and work not just to have walls come crumbling down but to soften hearts, especially of those who govern us,” said Cardinal Tobin, archbishop of Newark. “This country was built on the ideas of justice and that is what we are calling for and praying for today.”

The protest was organized by American Friends Service Committee and project coordinator, Serges Demefack, originally from Cameroon and now living in Bushwick.

“Today was a powerful day,” said Demefack. “We organized to first remember the people that are facing deportation and we continue to fight for them and fight to make sure that won’t happen to others.

“Having the cardinal here means so much as many people wanted to come out and pray with him but he is also such an important figure in our community that just his presence helps. We have so many countries represented here from all the people who came out to help today, which means our message is getting out there and more and more people want to help and do the right thing.”

Chia-Chia Wang, organizing and advocacy director of American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program, took inspiration in seeing Cardinal Tobin.

“Most of the people that we see are people of Temporary Protection Status and many of them are Catholic, so to see them see Cardinal Tobin out here fighting for them can go such a long way and is so inspiring,” said Wang.

“The danger of being deported for many of these people is real and that causes such a fear. Many of them have been here for decades and have home and families to protect. Yet they are scared everyday they might not be here the next day.

“These are people that have come here to find better opportunities and to raise their children in a safe world. We will continue to work for justice.”