DOWNERS GROVE – In an effort to stand united in solidarity with migrant families, state Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Naperville, has partnered with two local political organizations to lead a candlelight vigil July 12 at Fishel Park in Downers Grove.
Alongside the Downers Grove Township Democratic Organization and the Democratic Women of DuPage County, the event, which runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m., aims to bring together activists, legislators and those personally affected by the issue to offer support, help and hope for immigrants at border detention centers.
The evening vigil is part of a worldwide movement, Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps, which looks to address the inhumane conditions that immigrant children and adults face at detention centers.
According to the official site, Lights for Liberty is “a coalition of people, many of whom are mothers, dedicated to human rights, and the fundamental principle behind democracy that all human beings have a right to life, liberty and dignity.” The idea behind the vigil focuses on one word: freedom.
“When I see what’s happening at the border, I feel like we should be a humane country,” said Maryann Vasquez, event organizer and member of the Downers Grove Township Democratic Party.
Vasquez said that while she understands the need for rules, regulations and laws when it comes to working with undocumented and illegal immigrants, the detention centers across the United States are not the proper channel. The way those detained children and adults are treated at the centers is cruel and does not adhere to the values America was founded on, she said.
“We’re not being American,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez said that Lights for Liberty is a follow-up to last year’s Families Belong Together rally. Like Lights for Liberty, Stava-Murray hosted the protest in June 2018, which was one of more than 600 marches and protests across the country.
The Families Belong Together rally came on the heels of President Donald Trump signing an executive order halting family separation. However, the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which prosecutes anyone who crosses the border illegally, is still in place and leads families to be detained at the border. The Families Belong Together movement demands that zero tolerance and family detention end and families that have been separated be reunited immediately.
Many participants displayed homemade posters with messages about their opposition to the Trump administration’s policy that led children to be separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
With Lights for Liberty, Vasquez said that she encourages residents from Downers Grove and surrounding communities to participate in the vigil, learn more about the controversial issue at hand and understand ways they can help. Their attendance combined with their voices does matter.
“If they show up there, they will be showing their support worldwide and to the government that something needs to be done,” Vasquez said.
For information, visit lightsforliberty.org.