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Protest Against Immigrant Detention and Border Deaths Outside Ramsey County Jail

75 Speak Out on Day of the Dead Holiday
By Brad Sigal |
November 2, 2009
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Sara Avendano (right) and her daughter (left) speak at the rally
Sara Avendano (right) and her daughter (left) speak at the rally on November 1 in front of the Ramsey County Detention Center. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
A MIRAc member speaks at the rally
Community member speaks out against her husband's pending deportation
A MIRAc member speaks at the rally in front of Ramsey County Detention Center on November 1 about the importance of mobilizing the community. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Community member speaks out against her husband's pending deportation (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Saint Paul, MN - 75 people gathered outside the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center, Nov. 1. The protest took place on Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) to commemorate the more than 4000 immigrants who have died trying to cross the border into the U.S. from Mexico and the hundreds who have died in U.S. jails awaiting deportation. Día de los Muertos is widely celebrated in Mexico and by Latin Americans in the U.S. to remember loved ones who have died.

Since the protest took place right after visiting hours, some people visiting family members in the jail stopped to listen to the rally. One woman who was visiting her husband in the jail was so moved that she stayed for the whole rally and got up to speak about her situation. Her husband, who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by his mother when he was a child, is being held in the Ramsey County Detention Center. He is awaiting deportation to Mexico, a country he doesn't even remember, which would leave his wife alone with their three children.

Sara Avendano and one of her daughters also spoke movingly at the rally. Sara is a mother of six children here in the U.S., one of whom has autism and one of whom is only one year old. Sara is now awaiting deportation, which would force her to leave the U.S. by Dec. 4. Sara and her family are fighting against her deportation, trying to win her right to stay in the U.S. with her family.

The Ketzal Coatlicue Aztec Dancers performed at the event, and many people brought remembrances of loved ones who have died to add to an altar that was constructed in front of the jail.

According to a statement by rally organizers, "In just over a decade, immigration detention has tripled. The Department of Homeland Security has the authority to detain thousands of immigrants without the right to a hearing to determine whether the detention is warranted. Today more than 30,000 immigrants are detained each day and this number is most likely to increase with new community and workplace enforcement policies. Over 100 people have died in immigration detention over the past five years, and thousands have been denied access to medical care. On April 13, 2006 Maria Iñamagua died at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center due to a massive brain infection. On Nov. 1, we remember Maria and honor those who have died crossing the border or in the immigration detention system."

The event was organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Coalition (MIRAc), Interfaith Coalition on Immigration and the Immigration Working Group of Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates. There is a plan to hold a similar action once a month outside the Ramsey County Detention Center.