MONTEREY, Calif. - Over 200 people, including many local politicians, attended a rally off of Del Monte Avenue across the McDonald's in Monterey on Friday over the issue of migrant detention camps on the southern US border.
Protesters gathered in Monterey and Watsonville to show their opposition to what they see is history repeating itself.
"Children...are counting on us, counting on us to stick together and fight for them," said California State Assemblyman Robert Rivas in a speech at the Monterey rally.
Rivas joined other local leaders and protesters taking turns giving rousing speeches about what they see is a crisis at migrant detention centers.
"I feel for these people. They are trying to better themselves. And they come here, and they feel like they're being persecuted," said Jim Dulla, a Monterey resident.
The Lights for Liberty vigil comes about a week after a scathing government report came out describing filthy conditions at five facilities in south Texas.
"It's bewildering why any of that for any number of seconds can exist. The fact that it's been going on for months on the scale that it has is absolutely mind-blowing," said Dessy Murphy, a Seaside resident.
Monterey County Supervisor Jane Parker tells KION many migrant families who are seeking asylum are being vilified, turned away and separated.
"We've done this before, separating families, when we put the Japanese in camps. We have done this, separating families, when we had slaves," said Parker. "And then we look back at these times in our history and say, oh my gosh, how could that ever have happened? Never again."
Friday's protestors want to raise awareness to the serious overcrowding, lack of hot meals for children and detainees begging not to be taken back to cells. They demand these detention camps end.
In terms of solutions, many here understand it is a complex issue, but believe the current situation is unacceptable.
"Take these people, process them, give them some opportunities and let them be," said Dulla.
Another big topic at the Monterey rally was the immigration raids scheduled to start on Sunday, something Rivas likened to Nazi Germany.