FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Demonstrators in Arkansas and across the country rallied Friday (July 12) in support of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S.
The movement is in response to news that ICE officials plan to carry out a series of raids this weekend and deport thousands of undocumented immigrants.
Candlelight vigils and other peaceful protests were held here at home. Central Presbyterian Church in Fort Smith held a “lights of liberty” vigil.
One congregation member says people should be less fearful and more welcoming.
“I’m here because I really believe strongly that our country is better than to hold people that are seeking asylum against their will,” Cacaie Upchurch of Fort Smith said. “I’m here because I think it’s humane, just, for us to hear what their situations are.”
Dozens of people stood in front of the post office on 74th Street to add their voice to the mix.
“How could anyone with a heart not be moved to action,” said organizer Sherry Toliver. “At least let our elected officials know how we feel. We don’t condone this. We don’t go along with it at all.”
Many of the demonstrators say the conditions at detention facilities are inhumane and are calling for change.
“Right now I just want them to make the detention centers clean and humane,” Tipi Word of Fort Smith said. “I want the families brought back together. They do not need to be separated. Then Congress can work out what to do.”
In Springdale, demonstrators gathered at Murphy Park and in Siloam Springs, a protest was also held at the city park.