July 3, 2019

A Letter to Our Caring Community As We Prepare for the 4th of July

To the Editor:

As someone raised in the Jewish tradition, I was taught to view those who turn a blind eye to atrocities as complicit with the perpetrators. Growing reports about the detention of immigrant families — with rotting food and no hygiene, sleeping on concrete floors, belongings discarded, essential medical treatment withheld — suggest that the border crisis has evolved into something monstrously akin to concentration camps. Additionally, most of these facilities do not permit public scrutiny and include Army bases and for-profit facilities across the country, including right here in New Jersey. Many of these detainees are legally seeking asylum from conditions in their country of origin so appalling they have risked their lives to escape.

As we prepare for the 4th of July, a celebration of the freedom upon which our country was founded, what better time to ask: what are our values? How do we demonstrate our commitment to the fundamental democratic principle that all human beings have the right to life, liberty, and dignity? We must not stand by. History, and our children, will judge us by how we respond to this humanitarian crisis. We cannot allow these atrocities to occur in our midst.

On Friday July 12, from 7 to 9 p.m., the greater Princeton community will come together for Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps. The event is part of a nationwide protest and vigil to spotlight the inhumane treatment faced by asylum seekers in this country.

Beginning at 7 p.m., community groups will have tables available to share information, petitions, and action items. There will be live music and an art installation on view for the event. Starting at 8 p.m. local advocates and representatives will speak on the issue of human detention camps in the United States and the impact to our communities. At 9 p.m., around the country and around the world, participants will light candles in a silent vigil for those held in U.S. detention camps.

The Princeton event will feature prominent activists and local representatives including Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker; Maria Juega, co-founder of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF); Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, LALDEF chair, and director of the Center for Migration and Development at Princeton University; Princeton Councilwoman Leticia Fraga, and Princeton Human Services Vice Chair Veronica Olivares-Weber.

The rally is sponsored by Princeton Marching Forward, Indivisible Princeton, Indivisible Cranbury, Princeton Progressive Action Group (PPAG), the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, Stand Central NJ, and Lawrence Citizen Activists.

Whether you join the rally or not, remember that this is only a first step. We must continue to contribute our time, effort, and financial resources, and find ways to support the immigrant community in our own area. Please, #DontLookAway.

Yael Niv
Founder, Princeton Progressive Action Group
Franklin Avenue