Human rights vigil held in Hamilton to protest immigration policies

As vigils are held around the globe to mark International Human Rights Day, protesters gathered at the Butler County Jail to speak out against U.S. immigration policies. (WKRC)

HAMILTON, Ohio (WKRC) - As vigils are held around the globe to mark International Human Rights Day, protesters gathered at the Butler County Jail to speak out against U.S. immigration policies.

This International Human Rights Day marks 70 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dozens came by the busload to light a candle, sing in solidarity and speak out on immigration issues.

Fr. Satish Joseph of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Dayton says his heritage and Catholic faith compelled him to attend the rally.

“America should continue to say to the people what Lady Liberty says: Give me all your weary and your poor. But then I’m also here because that’s the call of the Gospel. I’m a priest and I believe God is also always on the side of the poor,” said Joseph.

Joseph said he’s spent time at the Mexican border and that some of the U.S.’s policies, like separating children at the border, are un-American.

“That’s not America, the America I know. We cannot separate children from their parents and detain families indefinitely,” said Joseph. “We are taking the process away and putting them in detention centers, which costs a lot of money. These people should be out working.”

Protest organizers said they chose the Butler County Jail because of the ICE detention center located at the jail and to also show that immigration issues go beyond the U.S.-Mexico border.

“For us, immigration, deportation, detainment, separation of families, these are critical issues,” said Natalie Hudson, who leads the Human Rights Studies Department at the University of Dayton. “These are a sign of the times and we are called to be here and to stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by immigration enforcement policies.”

Like Joseph, Hudson hopes the peaceful protest raises awareness about immigration and shows immigrants they’re not alone.

“This vigil is not directed at this facility only. It really is to raise awareness about where ICE is, how ICE operates and what it means for our immigrant communities all over the country and right here in southwest Ohio,” said Hudson.

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