About 50 citizens braved intense heat in front of the Old State Capitol building in Tallahassee on Tuesday to take part in a national day of protest against the current conditions in detention facilities across the country.
Carrying signs that read, “Inept + greed = camps,” and “We cannot say we did not know,” the protesters said they want the government to close the detention facilities around the country where migrants are being held. They also want to reunite families separated by the U.S. government, and have the government no longer spend money on family detention or deportation.
Reports of poor conditions for migrants along the border have been in the news for months as the country’s Border Patrol and Homeland Security Departments strain to cope with what has been called a humanitarian crisis along the U.S.- Mexican border.
At an El Paso border station this spring, for example, conditions were so bad that border agents were arming themselves against potential riots, NBC News reported. The border station had only four showers available for 756 immigrants, more than half of whom were held outside, and immigrants inside were being kept in cell facilities more than five times their capacity.
New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was blasted last month after comparing some of the detention facilities to “concentration camps.” But Linda Miklowicz, of the National Council of Jewish Women Action and a protester at the state Capitol, says the congresswoman wasn’t out of line.
“As a Jewish woman, we’ve seen concentration camps before,” Miklowicz said. ”Historians agree with her. That’s a concentration camp. If they kill them, it’s a death camp.”
The protest in Tallahassee was one of at least 170 scheduled demonstrations across the country. The “Close the Camps” protests were organized within the past few days by organizations such as MoveOn, American Friends Service Committee and Families Belong Together. Many of those protests were being held in front of the offices of members of Congress.
Before breaking for the 4th of July recess, Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together to fund a $4.6 billion proposal to provide emergency humanitarian aid for the southwestern border.