Santa Barbara Joins National Movement to Close Detention Centers
In a three-block-long, 500-person-strong procession, the community of Santa Barbara joined a nationwide movement on Friday evening calling for the closure of detention centers housing immigrant children and demanding an end to family separation. The crowd gathered under the arches of the Santa Barbara Courthouse where different organizations were handing out candles and manning sign-making stations. After brief comments from Pastor Art Stevens and organizer Jaquie Inda, the group marched to City Hall for further comments from more speakers.
The gathering was one of the most diverse in
recent history, with children and folks of all ages and ethnicities. Still,
Assemblymember Monique Limón highlighted that many people who would have liked
to join the vigil didn’t out of fear. In addition to Monique Limón, protesters
heard emotional testimonies and messages from more than half a dozen other
community members and local officials.
Pastor David Moore shared statements made by
children in ICE custody: Children said mylar blankets were not enough to keep
them warm; they said they were hungry and some regularly were woken up by
hunger pains; they said there were little kids, as young as 2 or 3 with no one
to care for them; they said some children cried a lot, reported Moore.
Congressmember Salud Carbajal’s representative Blanca Figueroa recounted the testimony Carbajal and other congressmembers heard from Yazmin Juarez who watched her 19-month-old daughter die while they were both in ICE custody. Former Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa informed the crowd about the case of Juana Flores, a mother of 10 and grandmother of 15, who was deported to Mexico from Goleta last year. Flores had been in the United States for more than 30 years when she was deported, said Ochoa. The case is currently being fought in court.
The two-hour rally ended with Inda calling for
action from the crowd. “From here on out, get involved, go to meetings. Act!,”
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