Vigil held in Appleton to protest southern border detention centers

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Vigils were held across the country Friday night to protest detention centers on the US southern border and urge immigration reform.

The deaths of immigrant children in U.S. government custody have sparked calls for investigations and changes to Trump administration policy. (Source: Department of Defense/Amber I. Smith/MGN)

This included one held in Appleton.

As part of an effort called "Lights for Liberty," people held up signs along College Avenue Friday night hoping to raise awareness over the on-going crisis taking place at the southern border where allegations of overcrowded detention facilities and children not being cared for continue to raise concern.

"I am here to demand that we close these camps, that we instead reunite these children back with their family members and sponsors in the United States,' said Marie Luna of Appleton.

Christina Leone Tracy was also in the crowd. She serves as the senior minister at Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

"We can't be doing what we're doing at the border. It's a sin, it's a crime, it's immoral, it's wrong, and we have to speak out. We have to do something," she said.

The vigil comes on the same day that Vice President Mike Pence spent time at Border Patrol facilities near McAllen, Texas.

When detainees saw reporters arrive, many began shouting, saying they had been there for 40 days or more and they were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth. Agents guarding the cages were wearing face masks.

The press pool covering the vice president was pulled out within 90 seconds.

Pence acknowledged "this is tough stuff" but told reporters in Texas, "Every family that I spoke to told me that they are being well cared for, different from some of the harsh rhetoric that we hear from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Our Customs and Border Protection are doing their level best to provide compassionate care to these families in a manner the American people would expect."

The event at Houdini Plaza attracted a few hundred people.

It was one of 788 taking place simultaneously across the country.

Vigil organizer Gina Maria Opalescent said, "I think that anyone that thinks that what we're doing is OK needs to study history and look at what the rights of these people are."

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