Militant Journalism

Community rallies for refugees outside private prison in Otay Mesa

Liberation Photo (San Diego Bureau)
Liberation Photo (San Diego Bureau)

On June 10 organizers held a rally at the privately operated immigration prison in Otay Mesa, California. The prison, holding nearly one thousand refugees, is operated by CoreCivic Inc, a billion dollar private corporation with its headquarters in Tennessee. It has operated the site since 2015, predating the Trump administration. Detainees work six hour days for only $1.60 per day, and face retaliation from guards and judges for not working

Organizers from Pueblo Sin Fronteras, Immigrant Youth Coalition, and Cosecha Los Angeles set up the event at the behest of 37 detainees currently held in the facility. The event was supported by organizations such as the American Indian Movement, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Union del Barrio and many other community organizations.

Liberation Photo (San Diego Bureau)
Liberation Photo (San Diego Bureau)

Nearly 200 people arrived at the private prison in defiance of the inhumane treatment refugees routinely suffer at the hands of corporate guards and ICE officials. Organizer Gina Garillvo from Pueblo Sin Fronteras spoke out against the conditions being imposed on the nearly 50 detainees held at the facility since the caravan arrived over a month ago. She spoke out against the separation of families at the border and the dehumanization of families seeking refuge in the United States.

While the demonstration was occurring, Liberation News saw company prison cars transport at least one youth in handcuffs without any family.

David Abu spoke on the demands being made by the refugees inside the facility. The demands were as follows: acknowledgement of refugee status, humane treatment, increased wages for labor inside, improved medical care, end extended detentions, and accountability for Roxsana Hernández’s death. Hernández was a trans woman from Honduras who was left to die of dehydration and pneumonia until it was too late in this facility.

Pablo Aceves from Union del Barrio spoke of the systemic causes for this violence against refugees, specifically calling on U.S. imperialism as the root of the problem. Aceves went on to defend the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, and called for a united front to combat capitalism. Aceves and organizers from People Over Profits were later stopped and harassed by the Border Patrol immediately after the rally on their way to get food. Union del Barrio’s video of the stop can be found here.

The action was an important reminder of the war on migrants currently underway in the United States. Women, children and elders are being separated from their families and kept in inhumane conditions. Rusty razors, insufficient medical care and neglect are just a few of the constant conditions that these refugees are forced to endure as a direct result of U.S. imperialist greed.

While refugees slave away for a measly $1.60 a day, CoreCivic posts hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, benefiting directly from the long detention times and suffering of thousands. Organizers pledged to stay in contact and resist the gestapo-like tactics of DHS, ICE and the Border Patrol.

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