Around 50 community members endured a light, cold drizzle to gather on the Arcata Plaza Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil for Claudia Portillo, a McKinleyville woman who was taken into custody by immigration officials in San Francisco two weeks ago and who continues to be held in the Contra Costa West County Detention Facility. 

After lighting her candle, Claudia’s sister, Jenny Ventura, offered up her prayer to begin the proceedings:

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Claudia’s sister, Jenny

“Thank you Heavenly Father for having the mercy to give us another day, Lord.

“We are asking, Lord, for your guidance in the situation, in this process. Thank You, Lord, for sending angels to this place, for sending angels, Lord, to the place where my sister’s at right now. We thank You.

“Please soften the hearts of the officers in there so that she’s in a safe place and so that her situation becomes better. Bring peace to my family’s hearts. Bring peace to her heart, Lord. We have faith in You and we know that You are going to make this situation go away and make it better, for us and for all the other families who are out there as well.

“Thank You, Lord.” 

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Ventura continued with a prepared statement: 

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My sister was born in El Salvador but was raised in the United States. To her, the only home country she has ever had is America. I know that whatever happens with her case, God will give her strength to overcome this. She is a strong woman, dedicated to her family, to her home. And God will give her more strength.

“In His Word, in the Bible, in Exodus 23:20 it says: ‘Yo enviaría a mi angel para que los proteja y los guie en el camino que habrán de seguir para llegar al lugar que los está esperando.’

“And in English: ‘See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you.’”

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Hear more from Ventura in the audio below.

(AUDIO) A Prayer for Claudia

Claudia’s fiancé, Miguel Cuevas, and their 6-year-old daughter huddle during the vigil for their missing loved one

Claudia’s sister Jenny and their mother, Dora Portillo