Mainers will gather outside the Maine State House in Augusta at 8:30 pm on Friday, July 12, for a candlelight vigil to raise awareness about the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, refugees, and other immigrants seeking entry to the U.S. at the southern border. The event is one of 11 planned around the state for Lights for Liberty, a national protest taking place in every state in the U.S.
“Mainers have a tradition of supporting immigrants and speaking out for justice and human rights, so it’s only natural that so many here would want to join in this nationwide effort,” said Kelli Whitlock Burton, an event organizer and co-leader of Suit Up Maine, which is sponsoring the Augusta vigil along with Capital Area Indivisible, Capital Area New Mainers Project, Central Mainers for Change, the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, Maine Women’s Lobby and Central Mainers to End Family Separation and Child Detention.
“These vigils are intended to show the current administration and our members of Congress that we stand with the families and individuals who fled violence in their home countries to come to the U.S. for safety and a better life.”
A July 2 report from the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security titled “Management Alert – DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in the Rio Grande Valley” detailed concerns about the conditions at facilities run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to that report and others, the centers are badly overcrowded and children and adults are being underfed and denied medical care. In defiance of court orders and federal law, families continue to be separated and children are held for longer than the law allows.
“It’s unacceptable to hold children in detention without access to basic necessities like soap or toothbrushes and to force women to drink from toilets,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the HHRC. “As Americans, we need to hold our government to a higher standard to guarantee the human rights of all people including asylum seekers, immigrants and refugees.”
More than a dozen organizations are sponsoring other vigils around the state. A full list can be found at https://www.suitupmaine.org/close-the-camps-protests/. For more information about the national protest and a list of vigils nationwide, visit https://www.lightsforliberty.org/.
What: Lights for Liberty: A Vigil To End Human Detention Camps
Where: Maine State House
When: Friday, July 12 at 8:30 pm