Religious Leaders Arrested at U.S. Border as Christians, Muslims and Jews Unite to Protest Migrant Detention

More than 30 religious leaders were arrested after they staged a pro-migrant demonstration at the U.S. border to show support for the Central American caravan.

Hundreds of people took part in the protest at San Diego's Border Field State Park, which borders Tijuana, Mexico, to call for an end to the practice of placing migrants in detention and to welcome those seeking refuge in the U.S after having traveled across Central America.

Read more: Migrant caravan members have breached U.S. border fence in desperate bid to claim asylum

Among those taking part in the demonstration, organized by the American Friends Service Committee, were leaders from numerous Christian, Muslim, Jewish and indigenous communities.

The arrests were made after the protesters entered a restricted area in front of the border fence, reported The Guardian.

Border Patrol spokesman Theron Francisco told The Associated Press that 31 people were arrested for trespassing, and one was arrested for assaulting an officer.

The protest was the start of a week of action planned by the pro-migrant Quaker organization. The "Love Knows No Borders" events will take place between Human Rights Day on December 10 and International Migrants' Day on December 18.

"As a Quaker, I believe there is that of the divine in all of us," Laura Boyce, associate general secretary for U.S. Programs at ASFC, said in a statement.

"This belief calls us to stand with those fleeing violence and poverty, and to call on our government to uphold the human rights of migrants and end the militarization of border communities. In the face of unfounded fear, racism and violence, courageous action is necessary."

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, from the San Francisco Area United Methodist Church, added: "Showing up to welcome and bless children, mothers and fathers seeking asylum from very difficult and dehumanizing circumstances is the right and humane thing to do. How we act in these moments determines who we will become as a nation."

Other groups and religious organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relation, the United Methodist Church and Jewish Voice for Peace, will be joining ASFC for the "Love Knows No Borders" events and protests.

The group is also calling for Congress to end funding for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies.

Thousands of migrants are camped out in Tijuana, having made the long journey to the border in the hopes of claiming asylum in the U.S.

In November, Tijuana's mayor, Juan Manuel Gastelum, declared an international humanitarian crisis after more than 5,000 Central American migrants arrived in the border town.

"We don't have sufficient and necessary infrastructure to adequately attend to these people, to give them a decent space," he told Grupo Formula radio.

border protest
Pro-migrant activists demonstrate against U.S. migration policies near the U.S.-Mexico border fence at Imperial Beach in San Diego County, as seen from Playas de Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, on December 10. GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images