CFIR members Sister Alicia Ramirez (left) and Maureen Flanigan (right) present Rachel Lovero (center), the GEO Recreation Specialist, with 525 handmade Valentines for the immigrants unjustly interned by the state at the GEO Detention Center in Aurora, Colorado.Photo: AFSC
By Jordan Garcia, AFSC Colorado Immigrant Ally Organizing Director
On February 13, 2012 at the Aurora (Colorado) Immigrant Detention Center, 525 handmade Valentines were delivered to 450 people unjustly interned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The next day, Valentine's Day, an additional 75 cards were gifted to day laborers in Denver and Aurora thanks to volunteers with Coloradoans for Immigrant Rights, a project of AFSC.
On the 13th, the waiting room at the detention center was full of people waiting to visit their loved ones, and they each took a handmade valentine presented by Maureen and Sister Alicia. On Valentine's Day, each of the day laborers, with sheepish grins and chuckles, accepted a homemade Valentine of their own. Many people seperated from thier families accepted these loving valentines.
The Valentines touched hearts and shared strength. We are all made more whole knowing these stories of fierce love and unforgettable power.
Many people have told us that this Valentine project provided them with an opportunity to not only be creative, but also to be self reflective: to set aside feelings of frustration about political posturing and to put what LOVE they could into a simple, beautiful card; to take just an hour or so to think about the experiences of immigrants in this country and to focus on the reasons we struggle for immigrant justice day in and day out.
Some of the Valentine’s read like this:
Dear Valentine, You are not alone. I hold you in my heart, thoughts and prayers. Love knows no borders or walls and together we can share each other’s strength and courage. I am with you in spirit on this Valentine’s Day. No estas sol@. Est@s presente en mi corazón, mis pensamientos y mis oraciones. El amor no reconoce fronteras ni muros. Juntos podemos compartir nuestr@ fuerza y valor. Mi espíritu está contigo en este Día de San Valentin.