The Western Front
By Mia Amis
On Friday, July 12, 2019 there will be a nationwide moment of silence and candlelight vigil held to shed light on the issues of inhumane incarceration and mistreatment regarding immigrant crossing into the U.S. where illegal immigrants are detained, according to the Lights for Liberty website.
According to the Office of Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security, Border Patrol statistics, the Rio Grande Valley sector has nearly a quarter million apprehensions in the first eight months of fiscal year 2019.
Despite standards in place to meet the needs of those in custody, The Department of Homeland Security claims that on many counts, these standards are not being met.
According to a report from July 2, overcrowding and prolonged detention was observed, posing an immediate risk to the health and safety of detainees.
In response to these conditions, Lights for Liberty aims to raise awareness and protest through vigil events, according to their website.
Toby Gialluca, an attorney and organizer of Lights for Liberty, said the event has been growing in notoriety.
“Two weeks ago, we launched the Lights for Liberty concept… we did not know there would be further development on that front,” Gialluca said. “We have 425 events world wide and counting.”
The candlelight vigil, Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps, will be present in cities around the globe. Over 75 cities plan to support this cause in the U.S. alone.
“We now have the opportunity to bring attention to [these issues], raise awareness and drive change,” Gialluca said. “We need to be aware of these things that are happening as a human race.”
Gialuca also stated that one of the main goals for the future is to “make these connections and provide awareness and financial support for these organizations” that have been focusing on these issues for a lot longer.
There are many organizations hosting this event nationwide, including the Border Network for Human Rights, the Coalition to End Child Detention El Paso, and the Hope Border Institute, along with numerous sponsors.
Fernando Garcia, founder and executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, said the group’s mission is to convince government officials to close detention centers.
“There are children arrested for crossing the border, separated from families and dying in detention centers,” Garcia said.
According to the Lights for Liberty website, there are events planned nationwide each with a candlelight vigil and a moment of silence. In Washington, there are vigils planned in Walla Walla, West Seattle, Ellensburg, Tacoma and Ferndale.
“As a nationwide event, the goal is to raise awareness,” Aimee Day, Ferndale organizer of the Washington Lights for Liberty, said. “They have been working on these problems for a long time, unfortunately things are getting worse, not better.”
Day brought attention to Lights for Liberty’s fellow advocacy group Community to Community which holds dignity vigils every Monday to raise awareness in Bellingham. These vigils seek to raise awareness for the support of undocumented and immigrant people.
“It’s important to bring attention to the efforts that are already being made in addition to the nationwide vigil,” Day said.
The candlelight vigil will be held at 7 p.m. and will follow some speakers who will make the case for what the event is raising awareness for. These speakers have yet to be announced specifically.
Local community members are encouraged to bring candles, friends, and signs and come join thousands of others nationwide in support of these human rights at the Ferndale Detention Center, 1431 Sunset Ave. Ferndale, WA 98248.
**This story was edited on Monday, July 8, to reflect the accurate starting time of the event from 9 p.m. to 7 p.m.