Hundreds are expected to gather at vigils across metro Atlanta on Friday to protest the treatment of immigrants at the United States’ border with Mexico.
The largest event is scheduled for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Plaza Fiesta on Buford Highway in Chamblee, but people are also set to gather in Alpharetta, Clarkston, Cumming, Holly Springs and Lawrenceville.
The “Lights for Liberty” vigil is “part of a national campaign to draw attention to the crisis of immigration detention and the victimization of children in a broken immigration system,” according to the lead organizing group, the New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta.
In recent months, reports of overcrowding and poor conditions at shelter facilities in Texas and Florida have dominated headlines and led to strong criticism from many national political figures. Several migrant children have died in the last year in these centers.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would step up deportations of undocumented immigrants.
“We are outraged that migrant children have been denied the most basic of necessities and that these egregious violations of their human rights have gone unchecked” Rev. Fabio Sotelo, the Hispanic missioner at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, said in a statement.
U.S. Senate candidate and former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Congressional candidate and state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero are expected to speak at the Chamblee vigil. Clergy from multiple faiths are set to offer prayers.
An estimated 375,000 undocumented immigrants lived in Georgia in 2017, down from a high of 425,000 a decade ago, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
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