This year on Mother’s Day, local Florida activists and witnesses held a march at the Homestead Refugee Children’s Detention Center. The ever-expanding for-profit detention center holds over 2,200 unaccompanied minor children seeking asylum in the United States and is run by a private company with no government oversight. I was fortunate enough to join the witnesses at Homestead – along with Tornillo witness Joshua Rubin, who had recently joined the vigil at Homestead – in February and March when I was in Miami for work. This was my first time doing long-term witnessing and along with my visitation at the nearby Krome Detention Center (more on that later) it profoundly changed me. I was lucky enough to meet so many passionate and kind people during my trip there and now consider Miami one of my many homes away from home. So last week when I heard about the Mother’s Day march they had planned, I knew I had to drop everything and head back to join my resistance family. I flew in on Saturday, dropped by for a visitation at Krome, and then headed to Homestead to help set up for the next day. A small group of us scrambled around all night trying to stake our claim on land where the employees had been instructed to park their cars in an attempt to block witnesses from being able to park nearby. As each shift turned over, we placed all manner of nonsense (coolers, cars, chairs, we broke out the caution tape…) where the employee cars once were. Then, after decorating and shooting the shit, we slept outside on the grass outside of a children’s detention center – something none of us probably ever imagined we needed to add to our bucket lists.
On the 91st day of holding vigil at Homestead, hundreds of people joined us to march against the injustice of child detention. There was singing, laughing, crying, and beautiful artwork. I feel so damn fortunate to be able to call many of these inspiring people my friends and family and can only hope that the children inside were able to hear us outside as we tried to communicate to them that we were all united in fighting for their release.
If you are interested in learning more about Homestead, you can do so here:
Jorge Ramos’s Reporting on Homestead
If you are interested in witnessing at Homestead or assisting with the witness movement there, you can do so here.