Activists protest inhumane detention of asylum seekers, demand their release
A coalition of organizations gathered in Detroit for a demonstration and march to protest the inhumane treatment of migrants and their children. They gathered outside the Rosa Parks Federal Building with music and dance. Speakers demanded an end to the unconscionable detention of migrants in U.S concentration camps that has already left six children dead.
"I see many parallels today, to the roundups of immigrants here to the roundups of Jews by the Germans and the French police in World War II,” said Rene Lichtman, a survivor of the Holocaust. “the malnutrition, the horrific camp conditions, lack of sanitation and worst of all, the separation of children from a parent. These conditions were intentional then and now, to break the children, to torture us and to kill us by neglect.”
After Trump administration tried to argue that children didn’t need soap and toothpaste for essential hygiene, the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report revealing that in some cases, as many as 900 migrants were held in facilities designed for a maximum of 125. And despite the Supreme Court ordered Flores Agreement that limits the time minors can be held in detention to 72 hours, some had been living in these conditions for over a month.
“I am working with another family with a 4-year-old who was separated from his parents for four months before reunification,” said Rosalie Lochner of the Michigan Support Circle. “The father told me he thought he was going insane. The mother is still in detention and has not seen her son in over a year. Another little boy, age 5, has night terrors and intense behavioral issues that he never had before. The damage that we inflict on these children will be with them for a lifetime. I am ashamed that my country was responsible for the imprisonment and division of families for nothing more than a desperate desire to be safe.”
After their rally, Protesters walked a short distance down Jefferson Ave. to the store front office of BI inc. ISAP, a subsidiary of the GEO group, a for profit prison company that contracts with ICE. Recently, Geo group announced the opening of an immigrant detention facility in Baldwin, a small town in northern Michigan.
"We cannot allow the human rights abuses being committed in all of our names to continue. The way that the Trump administration is treating immigrant families across the United States is appalling and unacceptable,” said Sandy Gaytan of Cosecha Detroit. “Not in our names! We demand the closing of all of this administration’s concentration camps, the implementation of humane asylum programs and serious oversight over ICE/CBP."
“Before my father died over 40 years ago, I promised him that I would ‘Never Forget’ and I promised him that I would do my best to make sure that nothing like what he went through ever happened to anyone else,” said Ed Weberman, the son of a Holocaust survivor. “Well Dad, I, along with all of you here today, am fighting for the end of the concentration camps that, unbelievably, exist in America today. We cannot and will not allow this to happen in OUR Country. We will not turn are heads and pretend that it will just go away or that nothing will happen to us. We will stand up and fight!”