Dozens of priests and nuns arrested after protesting Trump's child detention policy on Capitol Hill

'I just think that we can do better as a nation'

Andrew Buncombe
Thursday 18 July 2019 19:40
Mike Pence visits migrant detention centres at the US-Mexico border

Dozens of nuns and priests have been arrested while protesting on Capitol Hill against Donald Trump‘s child detention policies.

As part of a protest involving a number of religious groups, up to 200 priests, nuns and lay people sat ot lay down on the marble floors beneath the rotunda in the Russell senate building. At least 65 were then arrested and taken away by Capitol police.

The protests, which the activists called a “Catholic day of action for detained immigrant children”, was just the latest involving faith groups across the country, which have been holding events to draw attention to the president’s immigration and detention policies.

Non-faith groups have also been holding events about the policies, that have resulted in the splitting up of families, the rewriting of asylum laws to make it more difficult for migrants to enter the US, and the holding of minors in miserable conditions that the UN has decried as “appalling”.

All the while, Mr Trump has stepped up his rhetoric on immigration, part of a calculated strategy he believes will help him win reelection in 2020.

“As people of faith, we lose our credibility if we don’t speak out about what our government is dong,” Kelsie Herbert, a spokesperson for Faith in Public Life, one of the group’s involved in the protest, told The Independent.

She added: “Children are sacred. Jesus very clearly said we had to take care of children. When our government is treating children in the way it is, the faith community has to speak up.”

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The group said several Catholic bishops had sent statements of support for the civil disobedience action.

Roll Call, which first reported on the protests and arrests on Thursday, quoted Eva Malecki, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, saying the people were arrested for “unlawfully demonstrating in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building”.

“All were charged with DC code §22-1307, crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” she said.

Walter Liss, a Franciscan brother who attended the protest, said: “I just think that we can do better as a nation. I just don’t like what I’ve seen on TV the way that people are being treated and or scapegoated, you know, how people especially people of colour from other countries are being blamed for all sorts of problems in society.”

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