As Obama Gets Peace Prize, Immigration Activists Remind Him of Human Rights Issue in the U.S.

On the day that President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway, pro-immigration activists in New York were ready to remind him of what they consider a human rights crisis in the United States: the condition in which thousands of immigrants are detained throughout the nation.

“Immigrants, faith communities and community groups will come together outside the little-known downtown detention center for an interfaith vigil to shine a light on the urgent need for our Senators and Congressional representatives to pass just and humane immigration reform in 2010,” the New Sanctuary Coalition said in a press release.

The vigil will take place at 7:30 pm Thursday outside the Varick Federal Detention Facility in the West Village, an immigration jail that has spurred complaint for its detainees’ lack of access to counsel and their frequent transfers to faraway locations where neither relatives nor lawyers can reach them.

Activists will call “for [Obama’s] leadership on a major human rights issue in our own front yard — the shameful treatment of detained immigrants and the need for just and humane immigration reform,” said the New York Immigration Coalition in a press release. The vigil will take place at 201 Varick St. in Downtown Manhattan.

Similar events will take place Thursday in Los Angeles and later in over 20 other cities, organizers said, as part of the “Shine a Light From Coast to Coast” movement.

The culmination will be in Washington D.C. on December 18, when faith leaders from across the nation will bring prayer flags and signed postcards to the nation’s capital, they added.

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