Friday evening, hundreds of people showed up in front of the Champaign County Courthouse for Lights for Liberty, a vigil meant to call attention to the inhumane conditions that migrants are facing in detention centers at the U.S./Mexico border. It was one over 600 such events that were held across the U.S. and internationally. CU Indivisible partnered with CU Fair, New American Welcome Center, La Casa Cultural Latina, CU Immigration Forum, Bend the Arc: CU, Solidarity Sundays, Champaign County Young Democrats, and Mahomet Democrats to host the local gathering.

Photo by Laura Stevens

According to Cameron Raab, from CU Indivisible, “the movement's goals are to shut these camps down and make it impossible for folks to look away. It's been several months since ICE has raided in C-U (shoutout to Sheriff Heuerman for that one) but we felt that holding an event here was important to remind members of our community who may be undocumented that we've got their backs, and to send a message to those who are so lost as to try and justify what's happening that they are outnumbered.”

Attendees heard from various speakers, with Lucia Maldonado giving a keynote address. Maldonado is the Latino Parent Liaison with the Urbana School District, and as Raab puts it “has been in the trenches with the undocumented community in C-U for some time. He says the sponsors of the event wanted to “center the voices of those who have experience with this issue or have been personally affected by it and if you heard Lucia speak you know she's the real deal. We are so thankful she could come and speak and I feel like everyone walked away from the event with a better understanding of the issues faced by immigrants in our area and how they can help thanks to her.”

There was a follow up to the event Saturday where several community members did a “lit drop” to share information about what to do should ICE come to the door. It’s unclear whether Trump’s current raids will reach our community, but they wanted to make sure folks were ready for it.

CU Indivisible will continue to put out action items in their Facebook group related to immigration as they come up. In the meantime, Raab suggests following and supporting groups like La Casa Cultural Latina, CU FAIR, and the CU Immigration Forum who are doing the work here in the community.

Photos provided by CU Indivisible except where noted