Letter: Walking in solidarity
Editor of the Reformer,
On Saturday, Aug. 24, Ann Zimmerman from Guilford and I finished a four day Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice. About 300 people were present at the Immigrant Detention Center in Dover, New Hampshire to support the prisoners from northern New England who have committed no crime and have no idea when or if they will be released and allowed to continue living their lives.
Ann and I walked about 12 miles a day with a committed, passionate, and diverse group led mainly by progressive faith leaders from New Hampshire, including the faith based Granite State Organizing Project, the NH Council of Churches, and the American Friends Service Committee. We walked all day, and then had three evenings of programs, including one where a family from El Salvador described their reason for leaving their family, friends, and country behind. Daniel, the dad, was a truck driver, and since he had a semi truck parked by his home, a gang thought he was the owner and demanded $25,000, an impossible sum, or they would kill their 7-year-old daughter. When the gang threatened Ashley at school, they knew they had to find a way to leave. They are seeking asylum, but given the cruelty of the Trump policies, they may be forced to flee again — although where would be safe?
On day four, a march from Boston, a bike group from Montpelier, and walkers from Maine converged at a field where a group of Indonesian immigrants who have settled along the seacoast area welcomed about 200 of us with an Indonesian meal and a traditional dance. We then walked the last 6 miles, and met about 100 more people, about 20 of whom had come from the Brattleboro area. After we silently approached the prison, a number of clergy led a funeral service, naming some of those who have died in ICE custody. We then lined up outside the prison, and I believe we all cried tears coming from a deep place when those innocent people inside the prison banged on the walls, waved to us, and showed their faces in the small windows that let in a bit of natural light. We sang to those inside, doing our best to communicate our love for them and our rage at the terrible unfairness and moral depravity of a government that jails peaceful workers, many of whom grow our food and care for our farm animals.
One of the hallmarks of the Nazi Holocaust was the separation of families and the imprisonment of innocent people with no trial and no plans to release them. This is where this terrible system seems to be headed. If you want to speak up, contact our congressional delegation and demand no cooperation with the Republicans and no business as usual until we close the detention camps, let innocent people out of prison, re-start a process where we really adjudicate asylum claims in a fair, honest, and timely way, return children who have been stolen from their parents by the Trump administration, and NEVER separate another family. It is critical the the House of Representatives never give another unrestricted dime to ICE, as it is being used for more militarization of the border, more camps, and not being spent on humanitarian treatment of asylum seekers or hiring judges who can review these cases. If you want more information about how to get involved in the movement to close the camps and work for a just immigration policy, please contact me.
Brattleboro Area Not in Our Name
Putney, Aug 25
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