In response to reports of inhumane conditions at detention centers where immigrants and refugees are being held, activists with the national organization Lights for Liberty have planned nearly 600 protests and candlelight vigils across the country and abroad on Friday evening.
One of those vigils will take place at the for-profit immigrant detention center in Aurora, which has recently been under increased scrutiny after reports of infectious disease outbreaks leading to quarantines and a history of neglecting detainees’ medical needs. This particular facility is owned by GEO Group, one of the nation’s largest private prison and detention corporations.
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Beginning at 7 p.m. at 3130 Oakland St., advocates and others, including immigration attorneys, Aurora City Councilwoman Allison Hiltz, and spokespeople for Democratic U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette and Jason Crow, will speak on the issue of immigrant detention in the U.S.
Then, at 9 p.m., participants in Aurora and around the world will light candles in a silent vigil.
Other Lights for Liberty events will take place at immigrant detention centers as well.
One will take place in Homestead, FL, about 30 miles south of Miami, where thousands of migrant children are being held in extremely close and noisy quarters with no privacy or opportunities for outings.
Because it’s been designated by President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services as an “emergency and temporary influx center,” the Miami facility circumvents federal law that protects children in custody from being detained for long periods of time and requires shelters to have comfortable accommodations, mental health support, and educational programming.
Another vigil is planned for El Paso, TX, where Border Patrol has been holding immigrant families outside under a bridge, even as temperatures climb above 90 degrees.
The event has a list of 130 sponsors, including Indivisible, the Women’s March and the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
The Aurora vigil will also feature a donation drive for Casa de Paz, an organization that hosts immigrants who have been released from detention and families who are visiting detainees at the Aurora facility. Specific needs include adult backpacks, individually packaged snacks, bottled drinks, and King Soopers gift cards to purchase fresh food for guests.
There are also Lights for Liberty events planned in six additional locations across Colorado, including in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Cortez, Glenwood Springs, Lafayette, and Pueblo. For more information text “lights” to 977-79.
The protests come as the Trump Administration is set to begin Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids over the weekend, rounding up even more immigrants to move forward with deportation proceedings and potentially causing a sharp increase in the number of immigrants in detention.