This past Tuesday, The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice sponsored an educational panel on child detention camps at the United States border. The event, titled “The Inhumanity of Detaining Children,” drew a crowd that filled Edward’s Church in Northampton and informed the community about the cruel treatment of migrants searching for a better future. While the panel focused on detention camps, it also discussed the presence of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in the Pioneer Valley and highlighted the work of the ACLU Immigration Protection Project, with The Resistance Center, to deter their influence.
The event opened with an impressive performance from the Offbeat Womyn Drummers, a local drum ensemble composed of all women, before an introduction from radio host and activist Monte Belmonte. Belmonte reflected on the conditions of the world that allow child separation and imagined being separated from his own children.
The expert panel included a report back from the Homestead Detention Center with local activists D. Dina Friedman and Shel Horowitz, a summary of historical context provided by UMass history professor Dr. Laura Briggs, and reflections on advocacy in the Northampton community by Javier Luengo-Garrido of the ACLU Immigrant Protection Project. The panelists discussed the political-economic conditions leading to child detention camps before fielding questions from the audience.
This event, while solemn in nature, took on an important ethical and moral issue of the time with a framework of hope. By not standing idle, the community members present showed solidarity to the inhumane treatment children and families face while trying to enter the United States.
Gladys Franco, the head of the immigration committee on the Board of Directors at TRC, closed the event by discussing ways community members can get involved with migration advocacy and make a difference.
Spreading knowledge, calling representatives, and organizing around this issue are things we can all do to be active. If you are interested in volunteering with TRC, go to http://volunteer.theresistancecenter.org. One important thing we need help with is our driver accompaniment program, which provides rides to ICE appointments and ankle bracelet check ins for people within the immigration system. If you have a valid license and spare time, we strongly encourage you to consider helping out this program. Finally, you can make a donation here.
Thank you for inspiring us to continue to do this work!