Last week Rep. Juaquin Casto led a delegation of Hispanic Congress members to the Southern border to tour holding facilities in his district in Texas where immigrant women and children are currently housed. Requests from news agencies to interview the people in these facilities have been rejected so this visit by members of Congress was an historic occasion. Many fluent in Spanish, they were able to listen to the immigrants and hear the stories of their experiences.
In an interview on PBS News Rep. Castro reported that he found women held in cells for 50 days in cells with no working faucets. Some had gone for 15 days without access to showers, or good drinking water, subsisting on Ramen noodles and protein bars. Rep. Castro’s video from inside the buildings went viral on social media and sadly, they speak for themselves.
NPR interviewed a physician who visited these facilities and reported an appalling disregard for the immigrant’s medications, and a standard practice of withholding even basic medical treatment. One physician labelled what he saw “medical malpractice”.
Now a growing number of images and report raise questions about what will be the long-term effects of our government’s treatment of families seeking asylum. One thing that often gets lost in this story is the fact that under international law and our own legal system it is legal to come to our borders and seek political asylum when your life is in danger. The size of the caravans approaching our borders does not change those laws so much as point to extreme conditions of treachery and abuse in many countries.
Churches across the country are organizing a nation-wide Day of Awareness July 12 to respond prayerfully to this humanitarian crisis. Here are Cape Cod there will be prayer vigils in many communities. Locally, ours is the Lights for Liberty Prayer Vigil.
July 12 Lights for Liberty Vigil
Harwich Center 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Rev. Linda Shaw, one of the organizers from Cape Cod Council of Churches writes “The plight of immigrant and refugee children in detention centers has prompted many organizations to stand up for compassionate change.”
Here at Pilgrim Church in Harwich Port we will join churches across the country and have the church’s lights on that evening to show our concern for these least among us.
The Council of Churches has sent us a list of organizations that is involved in supplying legal support and assistance to the immigrants. If you want to look for ways to be more involved in this effort here is the list.
KIND — Kids in Need of Defense — has been leading advocacy efforts for kids in immigration detention.
Women’s Refugee Commission is leading national efforts against family separation and child detention to preserve access to asylum, increase use of alternatives to detention, and improve detention conditions.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network plays a crucial role coordinating legal services in response to administration-created crises.
ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project are litigating these and other policies at the border.
RAICES is the largest immigration nonprofit in Texas offering free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families.
Al Otro Lado serves indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Los Angeles and Tijuana, Mexico.
The Florence Project provides legal and social services to detained immigrants in Arizona.
Lawyers for Good Government contribute to the Project Corazon Travel Fund pledge your frequent flier miles to help get more lawyers to the border and volunteer as a lawyer or translator.
Justice in Motion has created a network of human rights lawyers and nongovernmental organizations across Mexico and Central America.
Immigrant Families Together supports bonds, living expenses, and medical and legal needs of migrant families.
Innovation Law Lab builds tools for immigration-related crisis response, aiming to improve representation and due process.
Lights for Liberty is doing local event coordination and is organizing nationwide protests and vigils being planned for July 12.
Human Rights First is a national organization with roots in Houston that needs help from lawyers.
National Immigrant Justice Center represents and advocates for detained adults and children facing removal, supports efforts at the border, and represents parents in the interior who have been separated from their families as a result of aggressive enforcement.