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New Mexico Cities Host 'Lights for Liberty' Vigils

More than 600 events are planned across the U.S. and globe tonight to protest conditions in American immigration detention centers. (Stocksnap/Pixabay) More than 600 events are planned across the U.S. and globe tonight to protest conditions in American immigration detention centers. (Stocksnap/Pixabay)
More than 600 events are planned across the U.S. and globe tonight to protest conditions in American immigration detention centers. (Stocksnap/Pixabay) More than 600 events are planned across the U.S. and globe tonight to protest conditions in American immigration detention centers. (Stocksnap/Pixabay)
July 12, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Two days before mass raids targeting thousands of undocumented families are expected to begin on Sunday, thousands of people will be on the streets tonight to protest what they consider inhumane conditions faced by refugees in the United States.

At least four New Mexico cities, including Estancia, are taking part in the nationwide "Lights for Liberty" vigils. Our Revolution New Mexico Co-founder Margarita Mercure Hibbs has helped organize the Estanica vigil and says, until photos were released earlier this month, it was difficult to understand how bad the conditions really are.

"While we've been learning about the horrible atrocities that the women and the children are going through, the conditions – which are just are just completely beyond anything we ever imagined – it's one thing to hear about 'em, but it's another thing to see the graphic pictures," says Hibbs.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids ordered by the Trump administration are planned in 10 cities across the U.S. on Sunday. New Mexico cities are not targeted, but families in Denver could be detained and children may be separated from parents.

The Lights for Liberty vigil in Estancia is at Arthur Park from 6 to 9 p.m.. Other New Mexico vigils are scheduled in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos.

Estancia is home to a county jail that closed two years ago for lack of use, but was reopened in May by the federal government, mostly to house asylum-seeking migrants detained by ICE. Hibbs says the news media has helped bring attention to the conditions for women and children in ICE custody, but it's unclear what the men may be experiencing.

"We have to bring attention to the fact that our own government policies are causing trauma to people, regardless of their age, their legal status," says Hibbs. “The fact of the matter is, it's not a crime to seek asylum, it's a human right."

CoreCivic, which runs the Torrance County Detention Facility, is one of the largest private detention companies in the country and collected $459 million from ICE in 2018.

The Trump administration says the intent of the raids will be to deter migrants from coming to the U.S./Mexico border. It government estimates there are a million people in the country with removal orders.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM