Immigration protesters at GEO detention facility mark 1 mil. deportations under Obama (PICS)
For over two years, monthly vigils have been staged at Aurora's GEO detention center, a privately owned facility that critics charge with profiting from the United States' immigration policies via the systematic trampling of detainees' rights.
Big pics below.
And Jennifer Piper, interfaith organizing director for the American Friends Service Committee, a mainstay of the protests, points out that participation continues to grow.
"When we started out, our first one had about ten people," she recalls, "and for the last year or so, it's probably averaged sixty people. But we had one that attracted 200 people, and this week, we had 150 people."
Piper credits the turnout on Monday to efforts by participating organizations, particularly Let Us Rise, as well as the theme -- the one-millionth deportation under the Obama administration.
"More and more people are either themselves being directly impacted by the increased detentions and deportations over the past two years, or they have friends and family members impacted," she maintains. "People are wanting to speak out more. They're starting to realize that this isn't just affecting them, or a couple of people. There are many, many people in our community that are being impacted by increased enforcement activities we see through programs like Secure Communities.
"There's also a growing awareness of corporate influence and involvement," she goes on. "They're starting to make the connection that GEO is receiving more and more federal tax money, and other corporations are making money off the stock GEO sells. There are several levels of financial benefit that happen within the immigrant detention system that benefits these corporations."
Among the speakers at the latest rally was Jeanette Vizguerra, a community activist and mom who continues to publicly protest even though she's facing deportation. But the event also included what Piper describes as "the visioning process, which is very powerful. People not only are able to talk about what's broken, but also what kind of world we want to live in." She adds that "probably half the people who were there were under the age of thirty, so it's important that they're talking about the future."
Look below and page down to see photos from Monday's event.