Over 90 immigration activists gathered at the Pentacrest in Iowa City on Saturday afternoon to call for immigration rights and express their concern about the current implementation of US immigration policy. Natalia Espina, who helped to arrange the event, is the co-founder of the organization known as the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project. It helps eligible detained immigrants to pay their bond so that they can be released.
Espina says the event was staged to tell the community how they can take action to support immigrant rights, and that the current immigration policies of the US, such as detaining immigrants at temporary facilities and separating families at the border, can be best understood by hearing from those affected by them.
The activists are encouraging people to support legislation, originally introduced in October 2017, known as the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act. It proposes the elimination of using county jails and private prisons by the Department of Homeland Security over a transitional period of three years, and that the agency makes public death reviews and inspection reports, the National Immigrant Justice Center says.
The center has cited reviews, including one by Human Rights Watch, which show that many detention facilities have inadequate care and are in violation of the law, in some cases resulting in deaths. Volunteers at the event handed out clipboards for people to sign a petition supporting the bill.