CASPER, Wyo. — A group of Casper citizens concerned with how migrants are being treated at detention centers near the United States border with Mexico will be holding a candlelight vigil on Friday.
The group calls themselves “Indivisible Casper” and say that the vigil will be held in conjunction with a national vigil called “Lights for Liberty.”
The Casper vigil will take place at 9 pm Friday, July 12 at Pioneer Park. Those wishing to attend are encouraged to bring some form of light such as candles or flashlights.
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“I think we have all watched what is going on at the border with some degree of horror,” Jane Ifland with Casper Indivisible said.
“It astounds me that with everything we know about adverse childhood experiences and the devastating impact that even such a thing as a divorce can have on the future of a child, how we can justify keeping the children in cages…I don’t know, I don’t understand.”
Ifland said she thinks the issue transcends political beliefs and affiliations. Fellow supporter Dee Lundberg agrees.
“I’m a Christian minister so yeah I took an oath to advocate for the oppressed and all of that, but I’m a human being first. Liberal, democrat, republican, it doesn’t matter, I’m a human being first.”
“If [people] saw animals being kept in this condition they’d be appalled. These aren’t animals, these are human beings.”
Ifland said that she thought some Christian voters were learning more about the issues at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I know that there are Christian Evangelicals who are looking at that and becoming increasingly unable to align what they see going on down there with what their faith teaches them they should be doing to other people.”
“You see by the name Casper Indivisible, this is for all the people who object to what is going on down there.”
While they are concerned about what is happening at the border, Ifland and Lundberg said Wyoming is affected as well.
Lundberg talked about the Immigration Alliance of Casper.
“The immigration alliance is just working to develop relationships with immigrant population whether they are legal or illegal,” she said. “Just developing a relationship with them so the wider community can get to know them as the human beings that they are and the struggles they faced and the reasons they left their country.”
“It adds a face to this whole story. These are human beings, they’re just like us, they want the same things for their kids, they want the same hope and dreams and future for themselves.”
“Here in Casper, yes, they are the people cleaning your room or cooking your meal or taking your temperature or [are] your neighbors or your in-laws.”
Lundberg said that if Americans were faced with crises affecting the safety of themselves and their children, she didn’t think some other countries would treat them the way migrants at the Southern border have been treated.
“If terrorists took over Montana, my home state, and the best way out of the country to provide a better life for their children was Canada, would Canada put them in cages?” she asked.
“If there was a terrorist outbreak in Canada, would we not allow those people to seek sanctuary here? We know part of it is skin color, part of it is just fear of the other. Everybody needs to take a cold, hard look at why and how they could be unaffected by this.”
Iflan said being a part of humanity demands taking this issue seriously.
“You don’t get to walk away from your humanity,” she said. “I want to point an additional thing on this question of abandoning your humanity. These tiny babies, these babies that are in the cages are being cared for by children that are 7 and 8 years old. Those people, those 7 and 8 years olds know better than to walk away from a baby.”
Lundberg said she recognized that the U.S. may need to reform its immigration policy.
“Maybe we need immigration reform,” she said. “But that’s not what this is about. This is so far beyond that. This is about how we choose to treat human beings. And we are dehumanizing thousands, millions of people because it is easier for us to deal with if we don’t see them as equals.”
Iflan said that the treatment of immigrants raises questions about the core of American character.
“This is about us,” she said. “This is about who are we? Are we prepared to stand by and let this happen and never say boo about it?”
“I don’t understand the people that say ‘oh those aren’t our children.’ Because actually, they are our children because the way that we treat them will be part of our future.”
Pioneer Park is located at the intersection of Center and B Streets in downtown Casper.
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