Performing artists Miguel, Ceci Bastida, and Los Rakas joined advocates and leaders to call for the closure of cruel and unjust immigrant prisons and launch a petition asking media to call them ‘prisons’ and not ‘detention centers’
ADELANTO, CA (October 21, 2017) – More than a thousand people gathered at Adelanto Stadium on Friday, October 20, where Grammy-winning R&B artist Miguel, as well as Los Rakas and Ceci Bastida, were joined by leaders and advocates in Adelanto for a free #SchoolsNotPrisons concert, organized to stand up for fair treatment of immigrants who are awaiting a decision on their request to stay in the U.S., as well as the closure of all immigrant prisons.
Hours prior to the concert, the artists and advocates held a news conference outside the Adelanto Immigrant Prison, which is the largest for-profit immigrant prison in California, to launch a petition on Change.org/immigrantprisons requesting that media organizations – including the Associated Press, New York Times, LA Times, the Washington Post, and other influential media outlets – call these facilities what they are: immigrant prisons.
Part of the petition reads:
“In Adelanto immigrant prison, 3 people have died in the last 7 months, and 6 people have attempted suicide since December 2016. Dozens of us have gone on hunger strikes to try and change things.
In order to end the abuse, we must first call them prisons and then close them. Starting with Adelanto.”
Authors of the petition, and guest speakers at Friday’s events, included those who’ve been spent time in immigrant prisons, including Adelanto.
“Call it what it is, immigrant detention centers ARE prisons! They are inhumane prisons, and it’s time we change the language around that,” said Eddy Zheng, who was detained inside an immigrant prison while awaiting deportation proceedings, and spoke to the crowd Friday night. “We can’t allow the system to change the language for us, calling us good immigrants or bad immigrants; we’re all citizens of this earth and we need to recognize the humanity in each other. It is up to us to create that change.”
Centered at the intersection of art and activism, #SchoolsNotPrisons Adelanto sparked a meaningful dialogue around the practice of unjust immigrant incarceration and the cruel conditions of immigrant prisons.
“Every day people are disappearing from our communities and being imprisoned in this system. They include asylum-seekers, victims of human trafficking, legal permanent residence, and even veterans of our wars,” said Christina Fialho, Executive Director of CIVIC, which stands for Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement. “This wasn’t always the case. Prior to the 1980s, there were only about 30 people detained in immigrant prisons on any given day. But in the 1980s, two private prison corporations were formed.”
Currently, there are about 1,600 people in Adelanto’s immigrant prison, which is owned and run by the for-profit prison company GEO Group. Nationally, there are more than 350,000 people a year incarcerated in immigrant prisons, about 40.000 on any gven day.
“I’m here at Adelanto today to give them [incarcerated immigrants] hope. Two years ago I was locked up in those cells,” said Sylvester Owino, who spent nine years in immigrant prisons. “It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been locked up, you can bounce back up and keep moving.”
The #SchoolsNotPrisons tour stop was presented by CIVIC, the Inland Empire-Immigrant Youth Collective, the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ), and produced by Revolve Impact, which has organized the statewide tour since the summer of 2016. The tour promotes a vision of community safety focused on prevention rather than incarceration, and supports local advocacy campaigns that call for more effective, community-based alternatives rather than severe forms of punishment, particularly for vulnerable populations.
The #SchoolsNotPrisons is presented by Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), the Inland Empire-Immigrant Youth Collective, and the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ), and produced by Revolve Impact. The tour is in partnership with more than 50 organizations from across California, including: A New Way of Life, ACLU-CA, Advancement Project, American Friends Services Committee, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus (ICE out of CA), Black Alliance for Just Immigration, BLU Educational Foundation, Brave New Films, Centro Del Inmigrante, Children’s Defense Fund-California, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), CultureStrike, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin Valley, Homie UP, Inland Congregations United for Change, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, MILPA, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, Movement Generation, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI), Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), PICO CA, Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, Presente.org, Project Kinship, Resilience Orange County, San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, Sanctuary Task Force of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Sankofa, Self Help Graphics & Art, Sol Collective, The Place4Grace, Training Occupational Development Education Communities (TODEC) Legal Center, Trans Latin@ Coalition, UFCS Local 770, UnidosUS, Warehouse Workers Resource Center (WWRC), Young Women’s Freedom Center, Youth Action Project, Youth Justice Coalition, and Youth Law Center.
The #SchoolsNotPrisons tour is funded by The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation.
About The California Endowment
The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno, and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. For more information, visit www.calendow.org.
About The California Wellness Foundation
The California Wellness Foundation is celebrating 25 years as a private, independent foundation with a mission to advance wellness for all Californians by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. Since its founding in 1992, Cal Wellness has awarded more than $987 million in charitable contributions, which include matching gifts and 8750 grants. For more information, visit www.calwellness.org/.
About Revolve Impact
Revolve Impact is an award-winning social action media and creative company that utilizes radical imagination, art and culture to transform global power, politics and people. Founded in 2014, Revolve Impact provides marketing, campaign management, event production, as well as policy advisement and strategic media expertise to a wide range of influential artists, nonprofit and government entities, corporate communities, and philanthropic foundations. For more information, visit www.revolveimpact.com