August 13, 2019

Together we stand: Barcelona Dems and friends in defense of immigrants' rights

On July 12, Democrats Abroad participated in a "Lights for Liberty" vigil in Barcelona in solidarity with the 818 #Lights4Liberty vigils across the USA and worldwide. At the vigil we read aloud and distributed, in both English and Spanish, a flier informing people of the worsening humanitarian crisis for migrants and refugees.

Since Trump took office, the number of people detained in the U.S. has risen from about 34,000 in 2016 to more than 52,000 today. Over 14,000 of them are children. Since 2017, seven children have died in U.S. detention — oftentimes in for-profit facilities. During the spring of 2018, the U.S. government systematically separated over 3,000 children from their parents without establishing a proper way to track the families separated or count the number of children detained; many still have not been reunited. Doctors and lawyers who have visited the camps have confirmed that the people detained are subjected to living conditions that are inhumane and comparable to torture centers. Claims of sexual and physical abuse have gone without investigation. The sick and elderly are confined to “icebox” rooms for weeks. Children as young as four months, separated from their parents, are handed to unrelated, slightly older children to be cared for. People have gone weeks without taking a shower or brushing their teeth. Medicine is confiscated and medical care is withheld.

Our Barcelona vigil was an impactful and inclusive experience for everyone participated and attended. We co-organized the event with Womens March Barcelona and we also allied with local Central American groups: Casa CentroAmerica and Tierra Catracha/Red de Hondurenas Migradas, who gave passionate speeches about the violent situations refugees from the northern triangle are fleeing. 

More protests are planned for the months ahead, including a #WeThePeopleMarch solidarity event on September 21 and participation in the Global Climate Strike event on September 27.

In the meantime, what else can you do? 

1. Donate to an organization that is doing frontline support work for migrants and those in detention. Make it a monthly donation if you can. We suggest RAICES and

2. Call your US representative and senators daily and demand an end to US concentration camps, accountability for DHS, ICE and CBP, and an end to human detention for all migrants.

3. Volunteer with a local immigration rights advocacy organization. If you can't find one where you live, then form an education+action group of your own like we did in Barcelona. Facebook page: Immigrant Justice Now International; Facebook group: Immigrant Justice Now Spain; Twitter: @TogetherIntl; Instagram: @immigrantjusticenow @demsabroadspain

4. Activate within your community by organizing with your neighbors, your friends, and your colleagues for ongoing action against detention camps in your area. (See #3 - our group is remaining focused on crimes against humanity in the USA, but we are also paying attention to the situation in Spain and Europe and will expand our actions by allying with local groups whenever we can.)

5. Engage in non-violent civil disobedience for as long as it takes to close every U.S. detention camp and to convince our government to respect human rights. Organize local protests, sit-down strikes, and ongoing action at ICE, CBP and local representative offices, and local detention camps, and support those who do with money, amplification on social media, media access and coverage, and your time. We can provide networks and resources to support these efforts.