Rally for Immigrant Justice
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on November 13, 2017.
A small rally of about 30 people was held outside the Adelanto Detention Center on Nov. 2 to remember the live of those who had recently died inside the detention center.
The Adelanto Detention Center is a for-profit prison run by the GEO Group, designed to hold undocumented immigrants until they can be processed. Six people have died of various causes in the Adelanto Detention Center in the past five years, three occurring this year.
According to the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, the deceased include: Fernando Dominguez Valivia died on March 3, 2012 of pneumonia; Jose Manuel Azuridia Hernandez died on Dec. 23, 2015 of a heart attack; Raul Ernesto Morales-Ramos died on April 6, 2016 of liver and kidney failure; Osmar Epifiano Gonzalez-Gadba died on March 28, 2017 due to hanging; Sergio Lopez Alonso died on April 13, 2017 of kidney failure; Vicente Caceres Madariaga died on May 31, 2017 of hypertension and acute coronary syndrome.
Luis Suarez, Project and Communications Coordinator for the nonprofit organization the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, hosted the project for three reasons. The first was to “demand” a medical report and investigation into the deaths of the immigrants being held there, specifically for the most recent death of Madariaga. It was also held to get the detention center to “provide adequate healthcare.” Lastly, Suarez wanted to bring attention to some of the detainees working full days for a wage of $1 per day, mentioning how many of them were “forced to work.”
According to Suarez, Morales-Ramos' cause of death was granted a full investigation, which determined his death was due to medical negligence.
“They [GEO Group] are a company that prioritizes profit over people,” said Suarez, “so we’ve noticed that in the past, a lot of the people that are inside, from testimonies from people that we speak to, a lot of people haven’t received proper healthcare.”
The rally consisted of speakers addressing the attendees in both English and Spanish, highlighting the deaths of the men being held in the detention center; a performer playing the guitar, with the crowd joining in the singing, and ended with different music being played from electronic speakers while the organizers opened up a table of hot chocolate and pastries for the attendees to enjoy.
“I think people don’t realize that these are people that are refugees, people that are asylum-seekers, people that are picked up by immigration operations that happen within our communities. They spend up to a year and a half or two years waiting for their court dates,” said Suarez, “a lot of people here assume they're criminals, but a lot of times they are here because the sheriff's department got them a violation. They somehow have to go to county jails, and when they’re released because nothing is found on them, immigration is found waiting outside because the county jail notified immigration.”