YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – Across the country Friday, thousands of people gathered at small rallies and vigils to protest the inhumane treatment of immigrants at detention facilities along the southern border.
The grassroots group, Lights for Liberty, was the overarching body that helped to make the vigils possible.
Tiffany Neal organized one held on the grounds of the York County Prison, which she chose because of its ICE detention center.
“The main idea is to shine a light on the darkness of the horrific acts that are happening,” said Neal, who clarified that their concerns were not with treatment at York’s facility but rather with ICE overall. “We should care that people are living in such devastating environments that they want to flee.”
Attendees held signs, some saying “Immigrants Make America Great” and “Do All Lives Matter? Asking for a child in a cage.”
Reports from some facilities show that adults and children have been held for days, weeks or even months in cramped cells, often with no soap, toothpaste or place to shower. Some reports have surfaced of children sleeping on concrete floors, and some adults having to stand for days due to lack of space.
More than 50,000 people are currently being held in ICE facilities, with approximately 20,000 being held in Customs and Border Patrol centers; many are said to be fleeing violence in Northern Triangle countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Back in the midstate, Harrisburg’s vigil went mobile, with marchers taking to the streets of the Capital City, passing bars and restaurants.
At 9 p.m., a candlelight vigil lined State Street with the Capitol looming overhead.
The Lights for Liberty events came the same day Vice President Mike Pence toured a detention facility in Texas, coming face to face with immigrants in overcrowded cells.
Pence said he and President Trump actually wanted cameras there to show what is going on.
“What you saw today firsthand was the overcrowding we knew we would see, we’re simply not going to keep people in individual holding cells beyond what is appropriate,” said Pence.
The vigils come just two days before ICE raids are set to begin, something President Trump confirmed Friday to reporters.
“We”re focused on criminals, we’re focused on – if you look at MS13 – but when people come into our country, we take those people out, and we take them out very legally,” said Trump.
The Trump administration agreed Friday to let a Stanford University pediatrician conduct an independent investigation into the current health conditions of migrant children at some of the detention facilities.