Clergy members get collared calling for release of activist


“We are putting our bodies on the line,” said Juan Carlos Ruiz, deputy director of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, who was among the 10 people arrested on Jan. 7. “Our demand is simple and reasonable. We ask Janet Napolitano [Homeland Security secretary] to include the principle of judicial discretion and due process in the spirit of immigration reform.

“Right now, we have a system so anti-family that a judge cannot consider Jean’s American-born children or his redemption from a crime committed 20 years ago,” said Ruiz, whose organization is affiliated with Catholic Charities.

City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito told the Jan. 7 rally that 30,000 legal immigrants across the country are being held awaiting deportation, putting their American-born children at risk.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick and state Senator Tom Duane sent messages of support to the rallies.

Montrevil’s wife, Jani, told the rally, “This makes no sense. The government doesn’t want me on public assistance, but how can they take away our family’s breadwinner? How can they judge him for something he has already been punished for?”

Police assigned to the two rallies did not make any arrests until protesters blocked auto traffic on Houston St.

“They [police] were very polite — and some were even sympathetic,” said Lenny Fox, a Judson member for many years who was one of the 10 protesters arrested on Jan. 5. “I told one of the cops about Jean’s situation and he said he felt sorry for the guy. I wished they’d arrested us sooner — it was really cold until they put us in the paddy wagon and took us Downtown,” Fox said.

About 65 people attended the Jan. 5 rally and 50 were at the Jan. 7 protest.

“The officers were very nice and polite,” said Clover Vail, a Chelsea resident and longtime Judson member arrested on Jan. 7. Vail said she has known Montrevil and his family since they joined Judson’s sanctuary movement three years ago. “He and his kids are lovely and his arrest was so unfair,” she said. Vail said that immigration deportation enforcement became especially oppressive after Sept. 2001.

In addition to Schaper, Fox and Cruz, others arrested on Jan. 5 were Lulu Fogarty, teacher at Judson Sunday School, which the Montrevil children attend; Reverend Michael Caine, former head of the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ and current pastor of Old First Reform Church in Philadelphia; Reverend Mark Marsh, pastor of Victoria Congregational Church in Queens; Susan Julia, ordination candidate at Judson; Paul Thorson, Union Theological seminarian; and Michele Fei, lawyer with the Immigrant Defense Project in Manhattan.

In addition to Vail and Fernandez, others arrested on Jan. 7 were Reverend Susan Switzer of Union Theological Seminary and member of Riverside Church; Reverend Eleanor Harrison, a nursing home chaplain and Judson member; Reverend Sherrilyn J. Posey, Judson Church member; Aarti Shahani, Harvard graduate student and co-founder of Families for Freedom; Christina (C.B.) Stewart, community minister at Lemuel Haynes United Church of Christ and Judson; Catherine Stetts, Judson member; and Craig Kuehl, also a member of Judson.

A photo of immigration activist Jean Montrevil and his family.