Immigration advocates are gathering momentum for another spring of political action, hoping to turn last year's megamarch and student walk-outs into a broader movement for legislative change. A coalition that includes Latino groups, as well as immigrants from various parts of the world, is leading a second vigil this evening -- say, in 20 minutes or so -- in front of the Dallas Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Stemmons Freeway.
The activists are demanding an end to raids that have captured illegal immigrants across the country and the closing of the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility in Taylor, Texas. The converted maximum-security prison is used to hold non-Mexican families with children who have been detained on immigration violations, and the majority of the 400 "prisoners" are women and children.
"This year we're looking at creating a new movement to liberate the 14 million people who live in the shadows of America because of their immigration status," lawyer and former state representative Domingo Garcia tells Unfair Park today. And he has plenty more to say after the jump.
Asked how he responds to critics who say such actions are merely supporting the flouting of the law, Garcia says, "I believe in a compassionate America that lives up to the values of the Statue of Liberty. That means we need to have a humane immigration policy that allows immigrants to earn their citizenship. Inflicting pain and misery on them does not make us a better country or help secure our borders."
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And to those who justify the detention of people in the Hutto facility as a way to keep families together while their cases are being processed?
"Putting children and mothers in prison isn't what America stands for," he says.
While government spokespeople describe Hutto as a family-friendly place, those who have been released from the building say it's nothing more than a jail. The son of a local Palestinian family that recently made international headlines after being held in Hutto for three months told reporters he and his family were forced to sleep together in 8 by 8-foot cells with small windows.
In addition to the vigil tonight at 5 p.m. outside the ICE office at 8101 N. Stemmons Freeway, the Mega-Movement Coalition meets weekly to organize marches, city-wide diversity celebrations and workshops, as well as voter registration drives in Farmers Branch. To get involved, call Alberto Ruiz or Domingo Garcia at 214-941-8300. --Megan Feldman