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Nationwide Group of Faith Leaders To Hold Anti-Detention Event at Otero County Processing Center

Jan 21, 2020

Credit Otero County Processing Center

  Chaparral, N.M. - NM CAFe will host faith leaders from across the country for a week long Border Encounter. LA RED and LIVE FREE, the immigrant rights and gun violence and mass incarceration programs of Faith in Action, are joining area community and faith leaders to stage a public action at the Otero County Detention Center in support of ending privatized detention and incarceration on Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 3 p.m. MT.  Here is a statement from NM CAFe:

“We are bringing our campaigns LA RED and LIVE FREE together to share this experience to deepen our solidarity work, and because both of our campaigns strive to end the mass detention and mass incarceration of brown and black people,” said Richard Morales, policy and program director of LA RED. “We need a new story to tell about our country, one where no matter your color, creed, or class, we all have inherent value and our policies must reflect that.”

This action is to shed light on the inhumane conditions, deaths, and mistreatment of detainees who have been detained at the processing center and other detention centers like them along the U.S.-Mexico border, and to ultimately end immigrant detention and mass incarceration of Black and Brown people. The hope is to also draw upon support for the newly-introduced New Mexico State House Bill 72. 

“For our state to invest in private prisons, shows how we value New Mexican families. We should be investing in better schools, infrastructure, and new jobs. But especially in investing services for mental health and prevention. If we continue the culture of throwing away and punishing people, we will never address the true needs and challenges our families face” said Father Manuel Ibarra from St. Ana Catholic Church in Deming, NM. 

In October 2019, Cuban asylum seekers at the Otero County Processing Center staged protests demanding their release from imprisonment. Advocates and attorneys sent a letter to ICE officials calling for the release of those men who remained in detention and scattered across three New Mexico detention facilities. Two Cuban asylum seekers detained at the Otero County Processing Center attempted to commit suicide by slitting their wrists, and about 19 others have threatened to follow suit. Days later, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent a letter to DHS calling for an investigation at the Otero County Processing Center, where poor conditions reportedly have led detainees to attempt suicides.

The protests also come after a transgender asylum seeker from El Salvador named Johana Medina León had been detained at the Otero processing center last year in 2019, and was denied medical care for the two months she was detained and died on June 1st of pneumonia. 

This action is part of a four-day clergy training and immersion experience into the realities of border life in Las Cruces, NM taking place January 21-24. The experience is being hosted by Faith in Action federation NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fé, also known as NM CAFé. 

What: Public Action at the Otero County Processing Center 

When: Thursday, January 23rd at 3:00pm 

Where: Otero Processing Center, 26 McGregor Range Road, Chaparral, NM