A Mother’s Day Vigil

FAN friends, Roger and Marilyn Yockey are Secular Franciscans from the Seattle/Tacoma, WA area. Together with other Seculars and FAN Action Commissioner, Dianne Aid, they attended a vigil at the Northwest Detention Center on May 9th, before Mother’s Day Weekend. The Yockey’s emotional experience is written here.


Yesterday myself, my wife and about 200 (an estimate) other people were at the NW Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington for a Mother’s Day Vigil. The theme, the purpose: “Stop the Detentions. Stop the Deportations” and KEEP FAMILIES TOGETHER. As I listened to the wonderful spirited music from the Seattle Labor Chorus and Bajo Salario, I thought of many things. And then I listened to prayers and the stories of family separation–of mothers and children especially being separated from husbands and fathers. The names of those who have died in immigration custody was read. It was a long list. Immigrants from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, the Philippines, and other countries. These were human beings, my Sisters and Brothers! In reflecting this weekend on what I had seen and heard, I had many questions.

John, from Portland, [a husband and father with whom the Yockeys had gone to the Domincan Republic last year to do some volunteer work with him and his wife] greeted me Saturday at the NW “Detention Center.” John told me, “I don’t call it a detention center. I call it a prison.”

Why do we call it a prison? It is an evil, for profit prison. Today, in the morning Seattle newspaper, there was a book review and reference was made to “Russia’s gulag system.” Let’s tell it like it is: The United States has a gulag system, and it is a for-profit, corporate, taxpayer financed evil! And, flying high above the ‘Northwest Gulag’ at 1623 East “J” St. ,Tacoma, WA are the flags of the United States of America and Washington State. Shame on a nation and a state that would allow its flags to fly above such horrible centers of human imprisonment!!!



(L to R) Dianne Aid TSSF, Marilyn Yockey OSF, Roger Yockey OSF, Mary Powell OFS, and Makalina Langi, Secular Franciscan Inquirer

There is a dicho, a wise saying, that I learned from Latin America, “Tell me who you walk with and I will tell you who you are.” Yesterday, I walked (very slowly) with some folks I knew; members of St. Patrick Catholic Church, Seattle; A Union staff woman from common struggles years ago; and some co-Secular Franciscans, both Catholic and Episcopalian. But I also was, in some way, walking with the immigrants in the Northwest Prison in Tacoma on J Street, their families and all immigrants.

My oldest son is on my case about doing some genealogy research about the Yockey family history. I have found out that the Yockey name was Jaggi in Switzerland, changed to Jacky in a German area and then to Yockey in the United States. But I also learned that my ancestors were farmers and, indications are, they could not support their families in Europe so came to the US. Also, it was a time of European warfare in which they did not want to become involved. Then there is the Mayo branch of the family–and know why they came from Ireland to the United States–famine and suppression of the Irish by the British. When are elected officials, the faith community and residents of this country going to tell it like it is? Immigrants come to the United States for work, to support their families, to escape violence from drug wars, gangs and the impact of unfair trade agreements. It was lack of work, lack of food, wars and the violence of that warfare, that immigrants have come to the USA for many years. It was that way for my family long ago and many of the same things cause immigrants to leave their homes today. But I think that the treatment of immigrants today also has a large degree of racism directed towards those men, women, and children who are forced to make a long, dangerous journey to the United States.

So, you probably did not need to know the Yockey family genealogy, but the immigrants in the United States today are also family and they are not to be treated as strangers!

Legalizacion Si! Deportacion No!

Roger Yockey, OFS

Published in: on May 13, 2014 at 9:26 am  Leave a Comment  

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