Saying "Yes" to United Communities and Families, "No" to the Obama Administration’s stepped up deportations and detentions
As the Obama administration surpassed 1 million deportations, immigration advocates demonstrated outside the GEO detention center in Aurora CO to expose the divided communities and corporate profiteering linked to detention and deportation. More than 150 people from Let Us Rise, AFSC and a dozen other organizations heard a half dozen speakers who themselves had been detained, or who have family currently detained, tell their stories.
Poet Bobby Lefebre expressed the sentiment of those gathered saying “You cannot imprison or detain the hope of a better tomorrow. Today we stand with them in solidarity. Our hearts are broken like their families. Prayer candles lit with the flame of fighting for dignity.”
AFSC staffer Gabriela Flora pointed out yet another new wall at the GEO facility as a symbol of the secrecy of detention: “This wall demonstrates how GEO and ICE work to hide reality, the reality of separating our families and trying to destroy our communities. They think that walls like this will keep society from learning about what it really happening. But we are here today to tell the truth of what is happening, to say yes to united families and communities, yes to living free from fear, and no to these policies.”
The federal government contracts with GEO Group, Inc to detain immigrants, paying $130 per day per person detained. GEO Group is a multi-national corporation which reported $21.2 million in profits last quarter. Jeanette Vizguerra of Rights for All People shared her story stating “This center is run for profit, making money from our hard paid taxes and off of the misery of families like my own. Companies like Wells Fargo invest in GEO’s stock, making more money off of our communities. The whole system is designed to dehumanize and humiliate you.”
Rosa, another mother who had been detained, stated “if you have never been held there, never been taken from your family for no reason, you can’t imagine what it’s like. It was a nightmare from which I could not wake up”.
Let Us Rise led community members in developing a vision of a community where immigrants and citizens are safe. Several people shared their vision including two children whose vision was “Keep all families together”.
Pastor Anne Dunlap closed the vigil with a prayer: “give us the tenacity and the strength to fight detention centers like this one until it is closed, until they are all closed” which met with a resounding “Amen”.
The following groups organized August’s vigil: American Friends Service Committee, Coloradans for Immigrant Rights, Let Us Rise, Something Grown Together Social Justice Institute, Centro Humanitario para los Trabajadores, Rights for All People, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, Prax(us), Comunidad Liberación, Jobs with Justice, and Rocky Mountain PeaceJam.