Most of us have been appalled by recent media descriptions of the concentration camp conditions in U.S. immigrant detention camps.

Inhumane conditions faced by refugees include being forced to sleep on concrete floors, in “los hielieras” (the iceboxes), with only thin Mylar blankets for cover, and overhead lights burning 24 hours a day. Conversely, refugees sited in desert camps may bake in unrelieved triple-digit temperatures.

In some centers the crowding is so extreme there is no room to lie down, stretch or sleep. There are stories of overflowing toilets. Medical neglect is common. We have read about the deaths.

The situation for children is particularly deplorable. Adding to some of the above conditions, camp staff have instructed young children, eight and nine years old, to take charge of toddlers. They have denied kids soap, toothbrushes, clean clothes, and even clean diapers.

Access to washing facilities is curtailed…no showers or bathing for weeks. Visitors report a stench. Skin conditions, resulting from filth and lice, are spreading among the children, along with infectious diseases such as flu and measles. Needed medications are routinely withheld. Visitors have observed exhausted children falling asleep during interviews. Whatever our feelings about immigrants and refugees, such treatment is reminiscent of the Third Reich. It shames us as a country.

Shock, disgust and concern brought about the establishment of a group dedicated to human rights called Lights for Liberty. In conjunction with Lights for Liberty, on Friday, July 12, thousands of Americans will travel to immigrant detention camps across the country, join together in the streets and in their own front yards to express anger and concern, and to demand change in policies that have resulted in abuse of immigrants in the custody of U.S. government agencies and contractors.

In solidarity, Livermore groups and churches will also gather on Friday, July 12, from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m., for Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps. We will meet at the Livermore Flagpole, across from Lizzie Fountain at the intersection of First Street and Livermore Avenue, with the intention to peacefully share concerns, music and prayer. Bring a candle or flashlight to illuminate the vigil.

Those unable to join the gathering are invited to place a light in a window or on a lawn to signify your desire to end the cruelty of the camps.

Find more event information at or contact Mary at