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  • The ‘Lights for Liberty’ rally march and vigil in San Diego, California, U.S., July 12, 2019.

    The ‘Lights for Liberty’ rally march and vigil in San Diego, California, U.S., July 12, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 July 2019

Human rights defenders have denounced the treatment of migrants in the United States, as at  least 15,000 children are locked in unhealthy conditions at these facilities.

Hundreds of protesters gathered Friday for a collective vigil in different parts of the US.., Mexico, Australia and Costa Rica to ask President Donald Trump to close the immigrant detention centers.

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In the U.S., demonstrations took place in dozens of cities across the country, including El Paso (Texas), Miami (Florida), San Diego (California) and New York (New York).

In Washington D.C., human rights defenders, teachers, students, immigrants and workers gathered in Lafayette Square, near the White House, where they chanted slogans such as "classes not cages."

"We are all Americans here. We all came here to look for a better future and it is not criminal to come here to ask for asylum," Guatamala-born U.S. congresswoman Norma Torres stated.

She said that those responsible for the deaths on the southern border are the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, as well as the Trump administration, which she said is "criminalizing the simple asylum request."

"Children should not be in cages," Torres said, adding that "the separation of Central American families is a crime against humanity. Close the concentration camps" and "children are not criminals" were read on colorful banners.

Ingrid, a Honduran woman who arrived in the U.S. six months ago, accompanied by her little ones, ages 4 and 6, narrated how she risked everything to enter this country.

Addressing President Donald Trump, she assured that "if he has children and a wife, he should have a little bit of heart" to understand that "one does not come to do evil things to this country." 

"I graduated in Computer Sciences at Columbia University, which I would not have been able to do in El Salvador," said Gerson Quinteros, a young Salvadoran who at nine years of age was also in a detention center waiting to be reunited with his mother, whom at that time he had not seen for a year and a half.

During the "Lights for Liberty" demonstrations, U.S. citizens also rejected the raids that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will carry out from Sunday in nine cities of the country.

"We are preparing for this, we are educating our community," Gustavo Torres, director of the Latino and pro-immigrant organization CASA, said.

"We are demanding to halt this injustice, this humiliation, this abuse against our families right now," he added and denounced that at least 52,000 people have been detained, 15,000 of whom are children.

The U.S. detention centers have become objects of strong criticism after human rights organizations released independent reports denouncing overcrowded and unhealthy conditions prevailing in these facilities.

Ten days ago, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also recognized that the Border Patrol detention centers are overcrowded and present risks to the health of migrants.

In a hearing before the Oversight Committee, attorney Elora Mukherjee told Friday that children held in the Clint detention center in Texas lived in fear of the guards, slept little and have no access to soap.​​​​​​​

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