UCLA Hosts Vigil to Draw Attention to Detention Centers

Hundreds march to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles on Thursday to protest the federal policy of separating children from their parents at the Mexico border, joining rallies in about 60 cities across the country. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI |
Jim Ruymen/UPI

The University of California, Los Angeles, held vigils on campus in July to draw attention to the immigration detention centers along the Texas-Mexico border.

According to a report by the UCLA student newspaper, the UCLA held a vigil event earlier this month to call attention to immigration detention centers and the heated immigration debate in the United States. The vigil event included speeches by UCLA doctors that have visited the various detention centers along the border.

UCLA Medical School Pediatrician Lisa Gantz was one of the main organizers of the vigil. In an interview with the student newspaper, Gantz said that America’s immigration policy is “inhumane” and “unsafe.”

“Hearing a small child, a preschooler, talk about the violence that he had experienced, it just made it so clear to me that these children are not emigrating: They’re fleeing and they’re fleeing potentially deadly circumstances and violence in their home countries,” Gantz said in a short comment. “They come here looking for our help, and putting them in these inhumane and unsafe centers is just horrifying to me.”

“I think that a lot of us have seen these stories and seen photographs and heard testimonials … (but) people are almost denying that it’s occurring or denying that it’s happening on the scale that it is,” Gantz added. “I think it’s really important that we force people to confront this ugly truth and realize the damage that we’re doing.”

Not all students at UCLA think the vigil event was necessary. Medical student Mayra Lucas Ramirez said that the vigil event only momentarily draws attention to the immigration debate. According to Lucas Ramirez, the vigil and similar activist events are not effective at achieving longterm political goals.

“I feel like sometimes events like these happen and raise awareness for a little bit and everyone cares for a little while, then they forget about it,” Lucas Ramirez argued. “At the end of the day, nothing was resolved and these children are still in detention camps.”

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