Locals protest detention of migrant children

Singing songs and carrying signs, South Valley residents took to the streets last week to voice their concern over the treatment of children at the southern border with Mexico by agents of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The candlelight vigil and protest were held the evening of Friday, July 12, at Memorial Park in downtown Visalia. More than 100 people attended the event, which was held in conjunction with Lights for Liberty, a series of more than 800 similar events held around the globe.

The mass protests are a response to conditions at several detention centers ranging along the US border with Mexico. More than 20,000 children–who have been separated from their families–are being held in crowded and unsanitary conditions, often without adequate hygiene and access to drinking water while being subject to abuse, according to independent observers and official reports from case workers for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

‘Racism and Hate’

Julia Jump Doyal, who organized the Visalia event, said the intent of the protest was “to close the camps, to shine a light on the concentration camps.” It was President Trump’s online remarks, however, that inspired her to take up the cause.

“Every single day, I check my Twitter feed and there’s some insane tweet (from Trump),” she said. “The racism and hate have just been emboldened. Now, he wants to get rid of the brown people.”

Doyal, who describes herself as a recovering evangelical Christian, says she believes she was called to make the effort.

“I had a near-death experience nine months ago. I was in a coma for a week,” she said. “I recovered, and I feel like I have to pay back. I really feel I was spared.”

A Matter of Faith, Democracy

Reverend Suzy Ward of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, who spoke during the candlelight vigil portion of the event, said she was there both for herself and as a representative of the church. Ward expressed deep concern about the Trump administration’s policy of dividing families of undocumented immigrants who have entered the United States without permission.

“I’m speaking as a person of faith,” she said. “This policy doesn’t reflect our baptismal covenant that calls on us to respect every person.”

Ward’s sentiments are in line with her church’s official stance. In May, the Fresno-based Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, sponsored the Pilgrimage of Hope. During that event, members of the church marched from Fresno to Sacramento to highlight the plight of those immigrants seeking refuge in the US. Treating migrants, especially children, humanely is part of the American ideal.

Ward cited the biblical story of the Good Samaritan–a parable told by Jesus, who described a traveler using his own resources to aid another who had been attacked, robbed and injured–as a standard for behavior.

“I think our values–whether they’re small-D democratic–requires us to respect the Statue of Liberty,” she said. “But, my faith also calls me to be like the Good Samaritan.”

Shades of Nazi Germany

The signage on display at the rally called for keeping children with their families and condemned the behavior of ICE, as well as the unsanitary and crowded conditions at detention facilities. There were also many comparisons between ICE’s treatment of migrants and the concentration camps used by the Nazis during World War II.

Inka Christansen, who migrated to the US from Germany in 1981, says the images she sees of the migrant detention centers are frighteningly reminiscent of events in her former country’s past.

“It really brings back the feelings of what happened during the Nazi era,” she said. “It’s just inhumane and unthinkable this can happen.”

Most of those passing by Memorial Park during the Lights for Liberty event honked and waved to show their support for the protesters. While it wasn’t clearly an objection to the protest, only one motorist seemed upset by what he saw.

“Go Trump and God bless America,” the man screamed as he drove past.

‘Very Un-American’

Martha Widmann, a resident of Three Rivers, said compassion drove her to join the protest.

“I’m here because I have been heartsick with the whole fiasco at the border,” she said. “I recognize this is a complex issue, but it’s very un-American.”

She believes those who support the actions by ICE would feel differently if their own children were treated in a similar manner.

“I know there are people who have children that wouldn’t like it,” she said.

LIsa Alvarado, an activist with the Latino Community Fund, said she was concerned about the damaging impact on children who have been separated from their families and detained by ICE.

“I was talking with the teachers about the long-term effects,” she said. “It re-fired my commitment.”

Alvarado also wanted to set an example.

“We embody the courage for others,” she said. “A lot of people feel helpless, and this is a good way to overcome apathy.”

‘Militarized Zone’

Among the speakers who addressed the vigil was Vera Castillo, a Visalia resident who recently visited the Migrant Resource Center in San Antonio, Texas. Busloads of recent migrants have been dropped off in that city’s downtown with little or no resources, she said.

“The border is a militarized zone,” Castillo said.

Much of the imagery currently in the media depicts Latinx immigrants from Mexico and Central American countries, but many of those she spoke to were refugees from Haiti and the Republic of the Congo. Those depictions, she said, create unfounded fear.

“They’re (major media outlets) projecting brown Latin people,” Castillo said. “On the ground, it’s different. That was an experience that changed my life.”

Jovita Harrah, an immigrant who came to the US from Guyana, called for more than just thoughts and prayers to aid those languishing in ICE detention centers.

“We can’t just pray. We have to do something else,” she said. “We came here for a better life; they came here for a better life. We need to help them.”

14 thoughts on “Locals protest detention of migrant children

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  1. There’s a legal way to come into our country…..use it.
    They are Detention Centers not Concentration camps. (see comments below)
    We also can’t allow those who have plans for evil in our country to come in…..drug cartels, MS13, and yes they are other countries are sending us their rejects. Remember what the UN proclaimed….
    Over 100,000 per month? That is extreme and looks like what’s happening in Europe.
    I think your misguided Nazi reference is divisive and just wrong. My grandmother (husbands side) had to hide from the Nazi’s and flee to America for her life. While the conditions may not be perfect in the DETENTION Center it is ludicrous to compare the two. The illegal aliens are choosing to come here knowing what is going to happen, the Nazi’s forcefully took people to be slaves and killed most of them!

    If we just had people who followed the law we wouldn’t be going through all this.
    FYI on CBS this morning it was said that the people of Mexico are now getting upset because the illegals are taking their jobs!

    • Please look up the definition of concentration camp in the Miriam Webster dictionary. The camps at the border meet the definition spot on. Furthermore, people do not deserve to be treated inhumanely for breaking the law. Prisoners who are citizens and have committed violent crimes have access to toothbrushes and soap, and this administration wants to argue that CHILDREN whose parents brought them here don’t need toothbrushes or soap!? Give me a break! What is happening at the border is wrong. We can disagree on how to handle immigration, and what policies should be in effect, but if you can’t admit that the way immigrants are currently being treated in the CONCENTRATION CAMPS is wrong, please check your moral compass.

  2. Why would a mother and Father drag their children across a desert knowing their endangering the lives of their children….what kind of parents do that? Knowing it is illegal to enter the US without permission….they know better….they know the issues that confront them by the words of others….they’re worried about separation but not about the dangers they have exposed the children to? I have no sympathy for people that are dishonest and breaking out laws….

    • It is not illegal to come to U.S. borders “seeking” asylum and refuge. They are not coming in without permission. They are stuck at the border. The ones who are being held in cages are the ones who are being “processed”. What kind of people who would put their children in danger crossing a desert, etc.? How about the people who came in covered wagons to California looking for gold? How about ALL the people who left their countries of origin looking for a better way of life in America and build this country? We are all decedents of immigrants. There was a time when it wasn’t necessary to “apply” for permission to come to America. Perhaps it would please you to retro evict all generations from America who’s ancestors were not given permission to come here. If so, are your bags packed?

    • Did you seriously just admit to not having sympathy for people who are being told to drink out of toilets? For children who haven’t been provided with toothbrushes and soap, and other basic necessities for health and hygiene?
      I have no words for that.., no kind ones anyway.
      BUT I might have an answer as to why they might risk the journey: fear. From the looks of it, many of the people coming to our borders are seeking asylum and refuge from places where they and their families are not safe. Maybe their children would have been exposed to danger whether or not they made the journey here, and they decided that risking the journey was better than living in fear of their children’s lives.
      If you don’t have any sympathy for that, then I sincerely hope you’re never in a dangerous situation where you have to leave your home behind. I hope that, if you have children, that you are never put in a situation where no matter what choice you made, flee or stay, that they would be in danger. And if you ever are put in a situation where you need to flee your home and everything you love for your family’s safety, I truly, sincerely hope you are never subjected to the treatment that the immigrants coming here from Central and South America have received from our government.

      • so do you also know that 92% of the so called asylum seekers claims are denied?…..because you can’t claim asylum for financial reasons….

        How long have we been trying to ‘help’ these countries? Their so called leaders steal all the money and never help their own people.

        All this has been going on for decades….just because we now have someone in office who truly wants to fix it you cry foul. Obama told them not to come. He sent back over 3 million people during his term in office. No one was screaming let them in then.

        Have you not seen what’s happened to Europe? We aren’t only talking about Mexican people. The Presidents first job is to keep America safe.

        You talk about the children….and what of those that are being used over and over as pawns? DNA has proven that many of the children don’t belong to who brought them in. Does Sex trafficking mean anything to you? How many have been caught in CA alone?

        You really believe people are being made to drink out of the toilet bowl? That is their lie, and you believed it hook line and sinker.
        Gullible much?

  3. Well let’s see. We had a local Hispanic business owner killed in Mexico recently. Business as usual down there. Democrats seem to want the same degree of lawlessness here.

  4. I can’t believe all the lies that are typed here! First ya need to look up the definition of illegal! Next y’all need to get your facts right & quit lying on this post! They are given everything they need, no toothpaste/toothbrush! Really, what did they come here with??? Drinking out of toilet? Really? If seeking asylum, you must seek that asylum in the first border/country you enter! If the legislature would change the laws & fix immigration as opposed to looking in to the Trump/Russian collusion BS I for one would be impressed. Y’all need to listen to ex ICE Chief Tom Holman, that will open your eyes to the truth & not this BS. God Bless America!

    • I think I prefer to listen to the people who actually visited the concentration camps and have seen what it’s like than listen to someone who used to run them (i.e. a HEAVILY biased source).
      If you’d like, I can and will gladly provide links to my sources confirming that the immigrants held in concentration camps are not being held in humane conditions, and that confirm that this administration has gone ON RECORD saying that the people in the concentration camps don’t need toothbrushes or soap. My question is this: can you provide sources that can prove that the people in the camps are not being mistreated? No biased sources allowed, i.e. no current or former ICE officials, and no one within the Trump administration/cabinet (their bias lies in the fact that many are laying what is happening at the border at their feet, and thus they have a strong incentive to deny any wrongdoing).

      Also, I hate that I have to keep repeating this as it should be bloody common sense, BUT COMMITTING CRIMES DOES NOT ENTAIL INHUMANE TREATMENT!!! Even if we could agree on whether the immigrants at the border are criminals (which we clearly don’t), the fact of the matter is that there are laws WITHIN THE U.S. CONSTITUTION THAT FORBID CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT!

      • You crack me up Enraged…..
        It’s crowed….it’s not built to hold 300 bodies. Please go down to the Mexico border far to the south and tell them not to come in. The centers are full.
        Your comment committing crimes does not entail inhumane treatment. I’ve got friends who’s children have been killed by illegals, who’ve spend very little time in prison. Would you like to speak to them?
        Our statue of Liberty that’s a shinning beacon for all, doesn’t say sneak in the back door in the middle of the night…we’ll take care of you.
        We have laws and they should be following them, their wouldn’t be a worry for toothpaste if they would.

  5. ‘Racism and Hate’ in Trump’s World: Haters and racists has always been a part of America and have never gone away. Now in Trump World it has become “acceptable” for them to stop hiding under their subliminal tidy whitey pointed hats because they finally have a President that proudly recognizes them as true patriots and he is someone they can openly call their beloved leader. Mirror imaging.

    A Matter of Faith, Democracy in Trump’s World: Trump Faith is not spiritual, kind, gentle, loving, or forgiving toward others unless they look and sound just like him and his kind. Trump Democracy is only for those who look and sound like him and his kind because anyone who thinks and looks different then they do automatically becomes the enemy, so says the President who not only tweets that is so but verbally proclaims it is so. Trump and his kind relish in mocking, demoralizing and tormenting “their perceived enemies”. The Word of God has been replaced by the Word of Trump. The Constitution and Rule of Law has been replaced by Trump and The Rule of Trump. He and he alone rules America because in Trump World he IS America.

    Shades of Nazi Germany: Abhorrent dehumanizing treatment of people; separating families; housing people in cages; and locking people up in detention camps. America has had a intimate long history of detention camps and their dehumanizing treatment of people all the way back prior to and including the Civil War, the American-Indian wars, World War II, prison chain gangs, Guantanamo Bay (Gismo), State prisons and in city jails. All made possible by the kind of citizens who looked the other way with their ability to justify anything no matter what. Like Trump’s kind are now doing in Trump World.

    ‘Very Un-American’: America has always had its lion’s share of ugly Americans and around here Tulare County is no exception. Finally they have a President that proudly recognizes and embraces them for who they are. Trump did not personally make people ugly. They have always been around quietly living, breathing, and embracing their feelings of being better than, or perhaps left behind, misunderstood, wanting to rage against societal norms, feelings of hate toward others who think and act differently from them, all the while patiently waiting for a fearless leader to come along who personifies and embraces them all. Trump is using them for his own person gains and when he is through with them, based on his years of past behaviors, he will toss them aside like yesterday’s garbage. I wish I could conjure up some sympathy toward them, but it is just too damn hard to do as each day passes.

  6. The term “migrant ” is being used to o freely. Migrants are people who have migrated to our country like many of our ancestors and legally entered this Country. They came for a better life and worked and learned the language and contributed to our Nation.
    These our children of illegal parents who can here to abuse our system of free medical, housing, schooling and money.
    All at the cost of tax paying citizens. We as a Nation as well as a State cannot afford to front the bill for this anymore. The politicians plan to remedy this is to raise taxes. They don’t care because they don’t pay for it, If they show they care and are compassionate for the cause it’s because they know that’s more votes for them and their concerns in the future. That’s the fruit of it all! That’s all they care about!
    Keep this up and taxes will be at 45% and more before too long.
    These aren’t migrants they are criminals breaking the law to take advantage of our Governments naive attitude and the great Legal tax paying citizens.

  7. So what about Obama’s racism? Remember his pastor? hHis spiritual leader saying “God damn America”? He is/was no less racist than you accuse Trump of being. Why is Black racism ok?

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