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Religious leaders to participate in national protest against migrant treatment

SALISBURY — Local religious leaders and others will host a vigil Friday as part of the national Lights for Liberty initiative, aimed at raising awareness of the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers in U.S. detention camps along the country’s southern border.

The vigil will be a “collective moment of grief over the situation that we are faced with as a country,” said Mary Frances Comer, minister of Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church, which is hosting the vigil.

The vigil will be from 8 to 9 p.m. Friday at the church, located at 1600 Brenner Ave. It is open to the public and nonpartisan, Comer said.

The goal is to highlight the country’s values on human rights, Comer said.

“Give me your tired, your poor …” Comer said, quoting the words on the Statue of Liberty. Those are American ideals, she said, but the nation is not living up to them, she said.

The vigil is under the umbrella of the national Lights for Liberty campaign. Nationwide, about 500 vigils are planned within the week, she added.

The national website for Light’s for Liberty says Friday’s vigils seek to bring “thousands of people to locations worldwide as well as to concentration camps across the country, into the streets and into their own front yards.”

The local vigil is a call “for an end to human detention camps and to the inhumane treatment of migrants and asylum seekers,” the local vigil’s Facebook page says.

The vigil will feature four religious leaders and a business owner who will speak out against what they consider to be “inhumane” treatment of migrants at the U.S. border, said Comer, who will be one of the speakers.

Other speakers are Rabbi Andrew Ettin of Temple Israel; Pastor Anthony Smith of Mission House; the Rev. Kate Morrison of John Calvin Presbyterian; and Evelyn Medina, owner of Mean Mug coffeeshop.

Comer said that despite the different religious backgrounds, all the religious speakers realize the importance of standing up for the rights of migrants and asylum seekers.

In some cases, children are being placed in “truly cages,” she said. They are sleeping on concrete floors without basic hygiene items while being separated from their parents, she added.

For more information about the local vigil, visit https://www.lightsforliberty.org.

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