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As Christian County Contracts With ICE, Activists Plan A Vigil On The Jail’s Doorstep

Ozarks Public Radio
(Photo credit: mikecogh via flickr)

A group protesting the US immigration system is planning a prayer vigil for immigrants in front of the Christian County Jail in Ozark Friday night.  

Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri said in a press release that it chose the Christian County Jail because it contracts with ICE to function as an immigrant detention facility.

The activist group describes federal immigration detainment facilities as “cruel” and the immigration system as “broken.”  Many Americans expressed grave concern earlier this year when media reported that hundreds of immigrant children had been separated from their parents after entering the US. There’s also been outcry surrounding the crowded facilities and lack of medical care along the southwest US border.

Christian County Sheriff Brad Cole confirmed to KSMU that the county contracts to hold federal inmates for the US Marshall Service and detainees for ICE.

"Federal law actually mandates that county jails hold federal inmates from time to time. So it's something we're required to do," Cole said.

He said some of those detainees have had an attorney come to the jail to meet them.

Cole said the federal detainees are there because they have violated US law.

He was not aware whether any of the detainees in his jail are seeking refugee status or political asylum—traditionally, that has been one legal path for undocumented immigrants to remain in the US, pending a judge’s approval.

According to Freedom for Immigrants, an advocacy group that tracks immigrants in detention, the Christian County Jail has had an average of 13 federal detainees so far this year.

The prayer vigil is set to run from 7:30 to 9:00 PM Friday, July 12  on the sidewalk in front of the Christian County Jail. That’s at 110 West Elm in Ozark, Missouri.