A “Lights for Liberty” vigil to raise awareness and to call for an end to “inhumane treatment” of immigrants at the Mexico border is expected to attract hundreds of people to the Plaza Fiesta shopping center on Friday, July 12. The vigil is part of a national campaign to draw attention to the crisis.

The vigil is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. at Plaza Fiesta at 4166 Buford Highway in Chamblee on the Brookhaven border.

Speakers at the event include state Rep. Brenda Lopez (D-Norcross) and Teresa Tomlinson a former mayor of Columbus, Ga., who is now a candidate for U.S. Senate challenging incumbent David Perdue in 2020. Prayers for detained immigrants will be led by Christian, Jewish and Unitarian-Universalist clergy.

Los Vecinos de Buford Highway, which works with immigrants living on Buford Highway in Brookhaven and neighboring cities, is a co-host of the vigil.

News reports in recent weeks of overcrowding and poor conditions for migrant children at a border patrol facility in Clint, Texas, have helped spur the “Lights for Liberty” vigils in Georgia and across the U.S., according to a press release. The vigils are being held as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to conduction immigration raids across the country on Sunday, according to media reports.

“We are outraged that migrant children have been denied the most basic of necessities and that these egregious violations of their human rights have gone unchecked,” Rev. Fabio Sotelo of St. Bede’s Episcopal Church near Tucker said in a press release. “We must pray that justice for the most innocent and vulnerable will be served.”

Lights for Liberty is a coalition of grassroots activists, with support from long-standing immigrants’ rights organizations and other organizers, according to its website. Five main events will be held on July 12 in El Paso, San Diego, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Homestead and Miami, Fla.

Other faith and immigrant rights groups co-hosting the Plaza Fiesta event include the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing, New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta, Faith in Public Life, El Refugio at Stewart Detention Center, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Congregation Bet Haverim, Compassionate Atlanta, We Are March On Georgia, IndivisibleGa04, Georgia Women, New American Pathways and DeKalb Democratic Women.

“We must raise our voices for those who lack voice to ensure that these detention camps are not allowed to remain open under these conditions,” said Rev. Tom Hagood of the New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta in the release.

The New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta held a vigil last year at Plaza Fiesta to pray for families being separated and detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Other metro Atlanta vigils are planned in Alpharetta, Clarkston, Cumming, Holly Springs and Lawrenceville. Vigils are also being held in Athens, Blueridge, Columbus, Dahlonega, Madison, Macon, Savannah, Statesboro and Watkinsville.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.