Local group holds "Close the Camps" protest

Published: Aug. 11, 2019 at 11:57 PM EDT
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In conjunction with "Close the Camps" protests nationwide Sunday, Temple Beth-El in South Bend held their own program in support of local immigrants.

Organizers say it's part of protests against the alleged treatment of people at ICE detention facilities, as well as recent deportation raids on illegal immigrants.

Local rabbis spoke, and their messages included: Being an immigrant is not a crime, seeking asylum is not a crime, we have to educate congregations, and that people in this community live in fear.

Then, one local woman shared her story of immigrating to the United States. Marlen Ortiz was 12-years-old when she made her way to America.

"Unfortunately I had to face some of the things that are happening at the border," Ortiz said. "As a child, you don't imagine this would happen. When you are back home, you think, 'Oh, the U.S. is an amazing place… it's like paradise."

Ortiz says she was locked in a cage for two weeks, survived on bread and water, and was abused by agents.

"There might be some facilities that are not as bad, but most of them are," Ortiz said.

As for those on the opposing side of the argument, Ortiz has this message:

"There is a room for everybody. We are not here to take jobs from people, we are not here to compete with anybody, we are here to actually create jobs."

Ortiz has been in the United States 18 years now. When asked why people make the journey, knowing it can be risky...

"A stable life for their children, " Ortiz said. "They want income because it's hard. In Latin American, there's no jobs… the government takes away everything from you."

Sunday's demonstrations coincided with the Jewish annual day of mourning.

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