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Lights for Liberty, a vigil to draw attention to the inhumane conditions faced by refugees being held in confinement, is scheduled for Friday, July 12, from 7:30 – 9 pm, at the Flagpole in downtown Livermore. The event is being hosted by Livermore Indivisible.

Events are being held around the country and in other parts of the world. Recent news reports have described children being given only Mylar blankets to sleep on concrete floors; children assigned to care for toddlers; refugees given no toothbrush, soap, showers or bathing for weeks; lights and fans operating 24 hours a day; crowding so there is no room to stretch or sleep; and kids falling asleep during interviews with visitors. The number one complaint of those held in detention is medical neglect.

California is one of the top five states with the largest number of people in detention (6,527). It costs significant taxpayer dollars to detain people in California: $145/day on average, according to www.freedomforimmigrants.org. This includes the costs for guards, healthcare, and other direct costs.

Nationwide, more than 60% of detainees are held in private prisons by ICE contractors. GEO Group and Corrections Corps of America/CoreCivic are some of the largest private companies running detention centers. Private contractor operation costs are much higher, according to federal government data, which list the average daily cost as $149.58 per person in a private facility and $98.27 in a municipal immigrant jail.

Freedom for Immigrants’ data identify that most refugees originate from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. According to federal data obtained by the National Immigrant Justice Center, refugees are being held for longer periods. On average, they were held 21 days in FY 2015, 22 days in FY 2016, and 34 days during FY 2017.

For more information, go to www.lightsforliberty.org. Register to attend the Livermore event on its Facebook event page.