About 20 people gathered last night on the corner of 30th Avenue and Peoria Street in Aurora, Colo., for a vigil and street protestsponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Coloradans for Immigrant Rights. Participants displayed placards—such as ones that said “Honk for Immigration Reform” and “Soy humano” (I am human)—drank hot chocolate, lit candles and marched to the nearby entrance of an 1,100-person-capacity facility for detained immigrants.
Through a portable loudspeaker protesters shared stories of families separated by current immigration policies, called for volunteers to visit people who have been detained and projected their chants in English and Spanish toward the facility in the hope people inside could hear them. A slow-moving white pickup truck shadowed participants from the intersection where they met to the front entrance of the facility and back during the protest.
Next month’s vigil, planned for Monday, Feb. 3, will happen in conjuction with a “Love Knows No Boundaries, No Walls” campaign that will provide Valentine’s Day cards for people detained at the Aurora facility. Last year, activists, Sunday School groups and other participants made more than 700 cards for detainees.
Vigil organizer Jordan Garcia said, “It’s an opportunity for people to look inward and identify what it might be like to be separated from your family, and it’s something creative to show love for someone you may never meet.”
AFSC is a Quaker organization dedicated to various projects, including the humane reform of immigration policy. Denver AFSC organizers and immigration activists hold monthly vigils to raise awareness of the detention facility’s existence in Aurora and to advocate for its closure. Several area faith communities, including Lakewood United Church of Christ, were represented at the vigil.
The GEO Group, Inc. operates the Aurora detention facility through a contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.