Michigan demonstrators call for closing migrant detention centers
Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence’s Southfield office on Tuesday to protest the treatment of migrants held at the southern border with Mexico.
The demonstrators were part of protests nationwide coordinated through “Close the Camps,” a initiative involving advocacy groups such as MoveOn. They are demanding that authorities close the detention centers, halt funding for family detentions and deportation as well as reunite separated families.
“What is happening to migrants seeking refuge in this country is beyond comprehension to me. These detention centers ARE the crisis. The migrants coming into this country are not,” protester Patricia Ballard said in a statement.
“This country has been a refuge for migrants for as long as there have been people coming here to escape persecution, poverty and better opportunities for themselves and their families. Children being taken away from their parents and then left locked in despicable conditions is inhumane. It’s a crime! It’s kidnapping. This is not what I want for my country and I will protest and call and write and demand for this to stop until it does stop. This is a crime against humanity and it can’t continue to go on for one moment longer.”
The demonstration came as Lawrence joined a congressional delegation heading to the southern border on Tuesday, her office said in a statement. The members were expected to stop to inspect the Homestead migrant detention facility in Miami, according to the notice.
“I am simply appalled at the photos that are coming out of these detention centers that are holding migrant children,” Lawrence said in the statement. “The images of overcrowding, unhygienic and unsafe conditions these kids are forced to endure are simply deplorable. I must personally view this facility to ensure these children are being well cared for, not placed in cages, and that they are receiving any needed medical treatment.”
The federal government has been struggling to deal with thousands of Central American migrants who are arriving at the border in search of asylum. The surge has overwhelmed the system, backing up immigration courts and crowding shelters along the U.S.-Mexico border, where advocates and members of Congress have raised concerns about the conditions.
With long-term facilities for adults and children at capacity, President Trump’s administration has said it has to hold people in unsuitable Border Patrol facilities for much longer than the 72 hours normally allowed by law.
Immigrant advocates blame the Trump administration for refusing to promptly release families, children and people seeking asylum, leading to increased numbers of people detained.
Last week, the Democratic-controlled House voted to send Trump a bipartisan, Senate-drafted, $4.6 billion measure that contains more than $1 billion to shelter and feed migrants detained by the border patrol.