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WNY advocates call for closing migrant camps at Mexican border

Mike Desmond

There's rising local protest about what's going on in facilities used to house people detained for trying to enter the United States illegally. The latest took place at a meeting called by Justice for Migrant Families Western New York.

Washington is denying some of the allegations about what's going on in places intended to hold far fewer people, as well as places for children taken away from their parents after crossing the Mexican border. Some older kids are said to be taking care of younger kids because federal agencies don't have the help they need to take care of the numbers of people involved.

Rachel Ablow called Tuesday's meeting at the former School 77, as an organizer for the Close the Camps Coalition. Ablow said there is a need to speak out about what's going on.

"Even if we are in a minority, it doesn't matter," Ablow said. "One of the things we really want to call attention to is the fact that those of us who feel strongly about this appalling situation have a responsibility to step up, to speak out and to make it stop. We need to close the camps now."

Elisa Schreiber was there as a Seneca remembering earlier detention centers.

"We were separated from our birth families and adopted out, for the sake of assimilation," Schreiber said. "These children are being separated from their families. They are being put in cages. Honestly, if I had children and were to put my child in a cage, the first thing that would happen is I would be going to jail, but the government is doing this and no one is doing anything about it. So I'm here today to make my voice loud and clear."

The meeting was a conglomeration of people who are often seen at events sponsored by various progressive groups, as well as those who say they hadn't attended any other meetings, but saw something wrong in the camps.

Rachel Dominguez was there because she called herself "outraged" about activity on the border. Dominguez said even her 10-year-old son is angry.

"He's been aware of this issue for many years and at age seven carried a protest sign outside of then-candidate Trump's rally here in Buffalo, saying, 'I Am Mexican-American. Be Nice to Mexican People.'"

The meeting was closed to the media part-way through, as those in attendance talked about how they will express their feelings.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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