Children are described as crowded, underfed, unwashed, and alone in reports out of detention facilities across the U.S. In response, Congress passed a bipartisan $4.6 billion bill to address the current conditions at the border with Mexico.
But advocacy groups MoveOn, United We Dream, Families Belong Together, and the American Friends Service Committee believe the package does not provide adequate protections for these children.
“We’ve seen the images and heard the stories coming out of child detention centers,” the protest’s website reads. “Horrifically, these conditions aren’t an accident. They are the byproduct of an intentional strategy by the Trump administration to terrorize immigrant communities and criminalize immigration—from imprisoning children in inhumane conditions to threatening widespread raids to break up families to covering up reports of immigrants dying in U.S. custody and abuses by ICE and CBP agents.”
The groups have organized protests in more than 180 cities across the country on Tuesday, July 2. Participants are protesting outside of congressional district offices with three demands: “close the camps,” "not one dollar for family detention and deportation,” and “bear witness and reunite families.”
The protests are united under a #closethecamps hashtag, and are due to take place from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. There are also demonstrations planned away from the two coasts, from Idaho and Montana to Kansas and Ohio.
The treatment of undocumented immigrants has become an increasingly central issue for the American people—and especially for the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. On night two of the first round of debates, every candidate said that their healthcare plan would include coverage for undocumented immigrants.
A number of the candidates and other lawmakers have also visited the detention centers. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared a series of harrowing tweets on Monday following the Congressional visit, noting in one, for example, that “Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets. This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress.” She called what she saw “unconscionable” and has come under fire for likening the detention centers to concentration camps.
A group of about 200 people kicked off protests over the weekend, demonstrating outside of a detention facility in Elizabeth, N.J. Part of a group called Never Again Action, the organization wrote on their Facebook page, “As Jews, we’ve been taught to never let anything like the Holocaust happen again. Now, with children detained in unacceptable conditions, ICE raids targeting our communities, and people dying at the border while seeking safety in the U.S., we are seeing the signs of a mass atrocity. We refuse to wait and see what happens next.”
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