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  • Edición impresa de Julio 16, 2019.

On Friday July 12, 2019, there was a call to hold vigils of Lights for Liberty. Thousands of US citizen and non-citizens met to protest the human detention camps that today are running as immigration detention centers.

Even though Vice-President Mike Pence after visiting the best detention center reported that “It was a pity to see so many people affected, but they were well taken care”, that is the opposite version of the several people that have reported on the detention centers.

At the detention centers, children who have been taken away from their parents live in cramped spaces, sleeping on the floor and covered only with aluminum blankets. There are no toys, or books, and they have no tooth brushes, soap or way to wash their clothes. Even though they are supposed to be grouped by age, gender and family status, mostly they are separated in groups of girls 17 and younger and the same rules for boys.

Even when they are returned to their parents, how can society respond to the trauma instilled upon those children?

Every detainee regardless of age or gender is been held under the most horrific and dehumanizing conditions. When people can be jailed for indefinite periods of time, with no legal counsel available, and no way to protest their situation, we can call it a concentration camp. People trapped in these places are mostly asylum seekers who have no other place to go. Systematically they are considered criminals even though they have committed no criminal offense. On top of all that, these children have lost access to classes, recreational activities and legal aid, since the Trump administration cut such services due to ‘budgetary issues.’

Concentration camps are not necessarily death camps like the Nazi ones, but they are nonetheless illegal, immoral and inhumane. The concentration camps for Japanese during World War II, were also concentration camps. At the time no one protested because the people were taken in such an abrupt manner that it was not noticed.

This time, individuals, organizations and churches here and abroad have taken notice of what is happening and are speaking loudly for it to stop.

Thousands of people gathered everywhere not only to protest, but to stand in solidarity with those suffering. Also, this time very courageous immigrants who currently have, or do not have proper documents testified before the crowds. They told of their own experiences when they spent time in detention, or how their father or mother was taken away. They also spoke how it is to feel threatened every day as you go to work or study, or when you have to drive, not knowing when any minor detail will throw you in jail and later on in a detention center.

There were thousands demonstrating on Saturday, but many more stayed away. When people do not speak and demonstrate their position about issues like the immigration detention centers as they operate now, they are being part of the forces that are keeping people living under that situation.

This is a Humanity issue but is also a political issue because people in USA have always taken a stand for fairness, justice, and compassion. If, as beneficiaries of the laws that rule this country, we do nothing to stop this nightmare, then we are showing that we agree with what is happening.

Let us hope our children and grandchildren do not have to pay the consequences of our action or lack of it. Let us hope that we may see in the faces of each child, woman or man detained, the face of our brother, father, mother, or our own children. Whatever we wish for them should be the measure for every human being.






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