Moline "Lights for Liberty" vigil brings awareness to immigrant detention facilities

MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) - Across the country Friday night there were "lights for liberty" vigils to bring awareness to immigrant detention facilities in the Southern United States. One of the vigils was in Moline.

Figure 1. Overcrowding of families observed by OIG on June 10, 2019, at Border Patrol’s McAllen, TX, Station. Source: OIG

There were hundreds of people at the vigil in Moline, protesting and reminding about the conditions in the refugee camps, "we're all united no matter the color" said Antonio Varela who was in attendance.

A sea of people, and signs, protesting the conditions of the detention camps across the border.

According to Border Patrol statistics, the Río Grande Valley has the highest volume of migration, with nearly a quarter million apprehensions from October 2018 to May 2019.

Connie Gowen, volunteering at the donations table said, "people don't think this is affecting our communities and it is. And we need to band together and treat human beings kindly and with respect. We need to open our eyes to what's happening in America. We need to open our eyes."

Border Patrol had been holding 8,000 detainees in custody in May - nearly 3,000 were unaccompanied children.

"Almost everybody knows someone who's been affected by this, whether it's a family or coworker. To turn a blind eye thinking you don't know anybody? It ripples, and if you don't stop it, it's just gonna continue to ripple" said Gowen.

Those at the vigil believe detention centers need to be treated as a humanitarian issue, rather than a partisan issue: "everybody deserves a better future- no matter where they come from, no matter who they are" said Varelo.

The Office of the Inspector General reports there is "serious overcrowding" at the detention centers. Which is why hundreds showed up in Moline. "Because they're humans, they need new opportunities, they need help" shared Laura Nuñez, who shared she also came to the U.S. at a young age.

There was a donation collection at the vigil where they took toiletries and cash for bail bonds. If they're not accepted at the border, they'll be donated to local families.

If you'd like to help, you can donate to Lights for Liberty online.