Wednesday vigil calls attention to local immigrant family separated for holidays
A Wednesday candlelight vigil and march in Glenwood Springs aims to call attention to immigrant families being separated during the holidays as a result of immigration enforcement detentions.
The interfaith vigil, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday outside the Garfield County Courthouse in downtown Glenwood Springs, is being organized by members of the Sanctuary Unidos committee of Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist congregation in Carbondale.
The committee is calling attention to what it says is regular Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity taking place at the Garfield County Courthouse.
“We know that one of the most active sites of ICE activity in our area is at this courthouse,” Sophia Clark, a member of Sanctuary Unidos, said in a news release announcing the event.
“Individuals appearing for court are approached by plainclothes immigration officers and arrested,” she said. “We believe this is fundamentally wrong: it violates our Constitutional right to due process and it preempts equal access to justice.”
Sanctuary Unidos has recently been supporting a local family who was impacted by ICE actions at the courthouse.
Clark said the family wishes to remain anonymous, but the case involves an immigrant man whose court process was interrupted before his case was concluded.
“He was undergoing medical care for a serious neck injury,” Clark explained. “Now, his family is devastated to be facing Christmas without him.”
Clark said the man is currently being held at the for-profit GEO immigration detention center in Aurora, and appears to be lacking adequate medical treatment.
“There have been multiple allegations of medical neglect at the facility,” she said in the release.
The ACLU sued GEO Group last month for the wrongful death of an inmate in 2017, alleging “extreme mistreatment.” The facility was also cited for rights violations in a Department of Homeland Security report in June.
Clark added that Sanctuary Unidos believes that courthouses should be places that are protected from ICE detentions and deportations.
Colorado HB19-1124, which went into effect in August, added several protections of people’s rights to ICE’s dealings with local agencies. Included among the provisions were: prohibiting police from agreeing to “detainers” (requests from ICE to local police to hold people for longer than their sentence); requiring an advisement of rights to individuals ICE wants to interview while in custody of local police; and requiring ICE to provide a warrant signed by a judge in order to get personal information from probation officers.
“We need to see even stronger protections from those in power,” Rev. Laurie Bushbaum of Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist said in the release. “Those protections include banning ICE from courthouses at the local level and passing humane immigration reform at the federal level.”
Sanctuary Unidos also recently organized a Colorado Rapid Response Network (CORRN) training for Garfield County. CORRN is a statewide hotline, run by a coalition of advocacy organizations, to report ICE activity, gather information about suspected raids and to inform people of their rights, the release explained.
The Unitarian congregation, for several months in 2017-18, hosted sanctuary in Carbondale for Sandra Lopez, a Silt mother who was facing imminent deportation despite numerous attempts to obtain legal status. She left sanctuary in August 2018.
“The spirit of this season calls for love,” Bushbaum says. “It is a time when we remember the teachings of Jesus: to practice generosity and loving kindness to our neighbors. We as a community have the choice to hold each other in love, courage, and righteous anger.”
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