Leading Lights for Liberty

On July 12, 2019, thousands of people in hundreds of cities across the country gathered to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants, as part of Lights for Liberty: A Nationwide Vigil to End Human Detention Camps. Indivisible East Bay proudly joined the wide coalition of groups presenting Lights for Liberty events, and IEB members joined other events where they lived.

Berkeley:

Along with Together We Will-Albany Berkeley and El Cerrito Progressives, IEB co-hosted a large protest on the University Avenue Pedestrian Bridge over I-80 in Berkeley. Here are a few great photographs by Wes Chang, of Pro Bono Photo; you won’t want to miss the rest of his amazing photos at this gallery.

 

Castro Valley:

Lights for liberty vigil, Castro Valley, photo by Andrea Lum
Lights for liberty vigil, Castro Valley, photo by Andrea Lum

The Castro Valley vigil took over all four corners of Redwood Road, with about 100 participants chanting, singing songs and making their voices heard. In addition to acknowledging the tragedy at the border, the event was combined with Transgender Visibility Night Members to raise awareness about human rights. Indivisible East Bay joined members of the Castro Valley Democratic Club, Eden Area Interfaith Council, and representatives from Rep. Swalwell’s office for an energetic and memorable event.

– by Andrea Lum

Richmond:

Many CA-11 team and other IEB members joined the large vigil at Richmond’s Civic Center, organized by former Richmond city council member Ada Recinos, the Latina Center, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia’s office, and others. The crowd chanted, sang, and listened as speakers – including refugees and elected officials – decried the human rights violations by the administration, and called for everyone to resist and take action.

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Photographs by Wes Chang, of Pro Bono Photo, and IEB members Andrea Lum and Heidi Rand

Immigration Roundtable with Rep. Swalwell

On July 8, Andrea Lum and LeAnn Kanowsky of Indivisible East Bay attended CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell’s roundtable discussion on the situation at our border and immigration detention centers. Eden United Church of Christ hosted the event, and representatives from Indivisible Livermore, Tiburcio Vazquez Health Center, other religious organizations, and legal aid agencies who provide services to immigrants were invited to participate in the hour-long discussion. Swalwell’s goal was to share his recent experience visiting the detention centers, discuss how we can help those in need, and collect information to support legislation in Congress to improve treatment of those crossing the border and seeking asylum.

During Swalwell’s recent visit with several other members of Congress to Homestead detention center in Florida, officials refused to open, let alone distribute, boxes of donated soap and toothbrushes. He noted that no one from the delegation visit was allowed to enter the detention center, as the officials at Homestead cited a need for two weeks’ advance notice.

The legal aid advocates at the meeting confirmed that the situation at the border and at the detention centers is “chaotic” and that the attitude by the current administration has encouraged bad behavior by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Once detainees have established “credible fear” with CBP, the interview is supposed to end and ICE should be involved. However, the legal advocates stated that immigrants often report CBP continuing to probe for information, creating a hostile environment. In addition, indigenous immigrants who do not speak Spanish (such as Maya people from Guatemala and Honduras), are severely disadvantaged by a lack of translators and unaware of the need to assert fear as the first process of seeking asylum.

Swalwell said the House Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member, will soon hold hearings on how to hold ICE and CBP officials accountable for the inhumane and criminal treatment of those in custody and stated that going forward, the next administration may need to completely remake ICE in order to clean up the “poisoned pool” of its employees.

When asked what we could do to help, Swalwell said that the upcoming Lights for Liberty events are important for boosting awareness. The following organizations are also worthy of support:

  • Immigrant Family Defense Fund: Legal and community resources for families in Alameda County public schools
  • The Florence Project: AZ legal service provider for adults and children
  • Keep Tuscon Together: AZ project that assists community members being deported
  • County Rapid Response Networks need our support, and we need to encourage our County Supervisors to commit to providing long term funding to these organizations.

At the conclusion of the meeting, we met an immigrant mother and her three children who are awaiting arrival of their father who is still in custody even though he won his asylum case. The administration is detaining him pending appeal, in spite of federal regulations which prohibit this.

Photograph (top) (c) Rep. Swalwell’s office, from December 2018 Town Hall

Lights for Liberty

Deadline: July 12 (but don’t stop there!) – The struggle for liberty didn’t end on July 4 (as if we ever thought it would …) On July 12, 2019, thousands of people across the country will pour into the streets and into their own front yards to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants as part of Lights for Liberty: A Nationwide Vigil to End Human Detention Camps.

Indivisible East Bay is proud to join the wide coalition of groups presenting Lights for Liberty events! We will co-host an event on Friday July 12 from 8 to 9 PM with Together We Will-Albany Berkeley and El Cerrito Progressives. Gather at the University Avenue Pedestrian Bridge over Interstate 80, Berkeley. Please bring a candle for the vigil – we will have a few. Large signs are preferred so cars on the freeway can read them until it gets dark. Signs should reflect the inhumane conditions of refugees, detentions, and camps. After dark, we will light our candles against this darkness in our country.

The vigil will occur on the pedestrian crossing over I-80, not on University Avenue. Parking options: there’s a dirt parking lot on West Frontage Road, just south of University Ave. From there, you can walk or roll up to the pedestrian bridge. There’s also a little parking on the east side of I-80, near the Berkeley Animal Services building.

Can’t make our event? You’ve got a LOT more choices of events in the East Bay and San Francisco (most on Friday, July 12, a few on Saturday, July 13). Find a local event here and keep checking as more are being added. Or organize one of your own!

Graphic by Lights for Liberty