KANKAKEE — More than 250 people demonstrated outside Kankakee County’s Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee on Sunday afternoon.
It was the result of a coalition of Jewish and immigrant justice organizations coming together to connect the U.S. immigration crisis with the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av.
The vigil outside Jerome Combs was one of more than 50 similar events nationwide.
The vigil featured readings from the biblical Book of Lamentations, which recounts the destruction of ancient Jerusalem and the devastation the Jewish people experienced as they were thrust into exile.
“Throughout our history, Jews have sought out homes where we could escape violence and persecution,’’ Rabbi Suzanne Griffel, one of the lead organizers of the vigil, said in a statement. “We see ourselves in the stories and struggles of thousands of immigrants today, many of whom have fled their home countries because the living conditions were intolerable.”
Participants closed the vigil by writing dozens of postcards to send to the Kankakee County Board chairman, demanding the county end all cooperation with ICE and abandon plans to expand the Jerome Combs Detention Center.
The event was co-sponsored by a number of Chicago-area and downstate groups, as well as Connect Kankakee.
Kankakee County gets federal money for housing ICE detainees. This revenue has helped the county balance its budget.