Column-Sister Mary Kuhlman: Ohio wrong to detain immigrants

May 9, 2013

TIFFIN, Ohio _ The Sisters and Associates of St. Francis in Tiffin, Ohio, do not approve of detention beds being used for immigrants held at the Seneca County Jail.

We believe that every person has been created with dignity and worth.

People who have come to our country without documentation have the right to the basic necessities of life. They must not be arrested without cause and detained in our jails. Nor should our Seneca County Jail profit from their arrest, detainment and deportation.

Undocumented persons are not criminals; they are people searching for a way to feed and clothe their families. They would gladly stay in their own countries if they were not so traumatized and poor. The U.S. is seen as a land of possibilities. Every person has the right to have possibilities for basic needs to be met and the possibility of a life of happiness and safety.

The undocumented person is also an asset to our country’s economy, often doing the lowliest work unwanted by American citizens. The U.S. is richer in diversity and in economy because of immigrants who come to our shores and work by our sides.

Undocumented people who have not followed immigration laws are not the problem, nor the criminals. The problem is a law that targets people of a different race or ethnicity making them unwelcomed, and not valued in our country. The criminal act is the law that allows treatment of people to be detained without cause, separated from their families, taken from homes and jobs, and often deported to their country of birth where they have not lived for 10 years or longer.

The Seneca County Jail raises approximately $2.6 million dollars annually from immigrants who are detained there, before being deported to their own country. This is inhumane treatment for the immigrants, and an abrasion upon the hearts and minds of so many who reside in this county. The laws of our country which have created this unjust system reflect a hostility and a violence which corrupts our national soul.

Here is the action we want to see:

• Stop detaining immigrants in over 250 jails around the U.S. and holding them as hostages until they are deported.

• Stop building our county revenues on the lives of people who are undocumented.

• Work to pass humane immigration laws.

• Work together as a county to raise revenue to offset the loss of detention of immigrants.

Partner with the Sisters and Associates of St. Francis, Tiffin, Ohio, to respect and honor all people and work together to do what is right and just.

Sister Mary Kuhlman is on the Leadership Team of The Sisters of St. Francis, 200 St. Francis Avenue, Tiffin, Ohio 44883