Thursday, October 4, 2012

At the Presidential Debates, Community and Faith Groups Demonstrate

At the Presidential Debates, Community and Faith Groups Demonstrate
Declaring Migration is a Human Right, Profiting from Pain is Inhumane

Judith Marquez, 720-690-5172
Jordan Garcia, 303-919-8798,

October 3, 2012 Denver, CO – Pressed against the fence surrounding the debate festival observers asked “What are the puppets for?”  Faith leaders, immigrants and community leaders singing and chanting along University and Evans, but the image that drew attention was that of dozens of people dressed in Monarch butterfly wings and the family of 14 foot tall puppets they surrounded.

The Monarch butterfly migrates hundreds of miles every year, crossing Mexico, the US and Canada. The demonstrators insist that the pattern and timelessness of human migration is equally beautiful, natural and significant. “Migration is a human right, people have migrated for centuries. The militarization and policing of borders is out of step with not only our history, but with our familial and economic realities. These policies result in death, as we saw in Chula Vista this week with the shooting death of US citizen mother, wife, sister and daughter Valeria Munique Tachiquin. We are here today to envision communities without this type of violence,” stated Jordan Garcia, Organizing Director at the American Friends Service Committee. 

Clergy surrounding the puppet family with their entourage of butterflies, offered silent witness, blessings and prayer as the grandmother, mother and baby were separated from each other by current immigration policy. Rev. Nancy Rosas explains the moral imperative for change this way “This separation of families, not only detention but also deportation, is morally reprehensible. Families experience unnecessary pain and suffering, we want that to end.”

The group demonstrated the monetary and human costs of deportation and for-profit detention centers like GEO, Inc, both of which have doubled under President Obama’s Administration.  They called on both candidates and the public to oppose inhumane and unwarranted detention and deportation and to recognize the human rights of migrants chanting “Profit from Pain is Inhumane!” as each of the puppets were scattered to the edges of the demonstration. Immigrant detention costs $5.4 million in taxpayer money per day. While detaining a person costs $164 per day per person[1], several studies have shown that alternatives to detention are just as effective at a cost of anywhere from $4 to $12 per day.

Judith Marquez explained her motivation for participating as she passed out fact sheets on the costs of detention and flyers to protest the Aurora for-profit immigrant detention center, GEO.  “It has become more and more obvious that the main reason people are detained is because corporations stand to make money based on tearing apart families. This profiting from pain is suspect.”

The three corporations with which ICE contracts, including CCA and GEO, spent at least $45 million in the past decade on campaign donations and lobbyists at the state and federal levels. [2]

People in butterfly wings surrounded each of the puppets, bringing the family back together through community, transforming profit from pain into a soaring love of family and justice. They left the presidential debates singing “Gonna keep on walking forward, Keep on walking forward, Gonna keep on loving boldly, Gonna reach across our borders, Never turning back”

WHO:                   American Friends Service Committee, Clergy and members from the Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Church of Christ, and the Mountain View Friends Meeting, plus  Coloradans for Immigrant Rights, Rights for All People and Padres y Jovenes Unidos.

[1] National Immigration Forum, “The Math of Immigration Detention”, August 2012
[2] USA Today, “Immigrants Prove Big Business for Prison Companies, (August 2012) available at,