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I was in Florence, AZ at the ICE detention center

Angela with son and a detention center Angela Orejuela was inspired to write about her experiences at an immigration detention center and sent me an email this morning. I immediately asked if we could share her thoughts on our blog. Here it is: I was in Florence, Arizona two days ago at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center. I went to visit a friend of a friend from NY but they didn’t let me in. The info a corrections officer gave me over the phone was wrong even though I called on the same day I planned to visit to verify visiting hours & policy. So after driving 2 hours there I left without seeing her and they wouldn’t allow me to leave any money in her account either. I was sad. I also met 2 girls that had been traveling all day. They came in to Phoenix from NYC and took a cab to Florence, AZ to the detention center. Only one of them was allowed in to see their family member. The other had to stay outside with their bags and cell phones — it was 105 degrees that day. They asked me if I knew a good immigration lawyer and of course I didn’t. There is absolutely nothing close to the detention center. Nothing is within walking distance. So my heart went out to those girls who were going to have to walk two miles to the nearest motel. I waited an hour with the girl that wasn’t allowed inside. She confided in me that her relative had been caught crossing the border with several others. I offered to take her into town and buy her lunch and look for a place to stay but she declined. She said she would accept any food and water that I could bring her. I could tell that she was afraid and wanted to trust me but she was in a strange town in the middle of Arizona, the most anti-immigrant state in the USA. So I brought back some drinks and food and I left her sitting there under a tree in front of the detention center. On my drive back, I thought about how our European forefathers risked their lives crossing the Atlantic Ocean in ships that were dangerous and unsanitary. Today people cross borders also risking their lives. Laws are broken that is true, but why? Because the desire of the human spirit to progress to provide for family members is more powerful. Hunger and poverty are strong motivators. The will and desire to work compensates the will to break a law by crossing a border to a better life. Not easy for some of us to understand until we are in a similar situation and our families are affected. If you want to send a message to Arizona that you oppose their treatment of immigrants, sign this petition saying you’ll boycott Arizona companies until they come out against injustice.

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