What a joy it was this week to see the Miami Herald article announcing that the Homestead detention center, where thousands of immigrant children were housed since 2018, will essentially be closed! The contract of Claiburn, the for-profit contractor that operated the facility, will not be renewed at its expiration on November 30th. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell received this news from the Department of Health and Human Services by e-mail on Friday, October 25th.
Even though the facility could be reopened in the future, staff members are being released from their jobs and the bed capacity is being reduced to zero, according to the article written by Pedro Portal. The non-renewal of Claiburn’s contract is seen as a victory for immigration activists who demonstrated at the facility and for elected officials who protested at the facility.
Members and friends of Christ Congregational Church traveled to Homestead as a group on three occasions—Good Friday, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. We made signs, stood on step ladders to wave, and call words of encouragement over the fence to the detained children we could see. It was hot, humid, rainy, and challenging to walk the long distance from parking to the facility. But we did it, carrying our signs and water bottles, feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit! There was great community in being part of a group of like-minded demonstrators of diverse ages, and physical capabilities, from many faith communities and citizens groups. We were united in our demand to “Shut It Down!”
I don’t know how many of us thought it would really happen, but each of us was there to do what we could. That’s all God asks, as we hear from the prophet Micah. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
To say that there’s a great deal more work that needs to be done in the area of immigration justice is an understatement. We aren’t to rest on our laurels. But just for now, thank God that we’ve been a small part of something wonderful!
God Bless You!
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ