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Vigil for undocumented immigrants in Ypsilanti: "these are real people, not just numbers"

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Lauren Janes
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Vigils were held across the state Friday, July 12th to call for an end to immigrant detention centers along the southern U.S. border. More than 600 events were held across the world the same day.

The coordinated vigils were called "Lights for Liberty." Ypsilanti residents gathered at a vigil in Riverside Park to call for an end to detention camps.

The event started with songs and ended with a silent candle lighting. One speaker said, "These are real people, not just numbers."

Emily Drennen and her family were handing out lemonade for donations for an organization that supports immigrant families.

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Credit Lauren Janes
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Emily Drennen and her family, beside lemonade stand

She said she was there to protest the detention of immigrant children, which she says is "not ok for the United States" and ultimately prompting her to need to "do something.”

The crowd of more than a hundred held signs reading "close the camps" and "human rights for children."

The Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and Love, Resilience, Action Ypsi  hosted the event. Many of the attendees found out about the event on Facebook. The posting reads:

"We want to come together to grieve the lives already lost as well as the ones forever changed by the trauma endured. We want to find solace in being with others who will not tolerate these atrocities happening at the southern border and across this country at the hands of ICE. And, we want to share resources and opportunities to act locally by connecting with ongoing efforts to support our own community. "

Molly Morgen is an intake coordinator at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. She said before she got on stage for her speech, she was getting emotional.

“So you know I do it as a job right. So it's like a job for me, and I have to compartmentalize, so it's really great to come to something like this that's more artistic, and the breathing and the poetry. I like to attach the humanity to it.” Morgen says.

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Credit Lauren Janes
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Jordan Walton (left) lives in Ypsilanti. He says "it's not ok, [he] wants the kids to be ok."

Morgen hopes the event inspires people to put pressure on government officials to close the centers. The vigil ended with the lighting of the candles and ten minutes of silence for undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers.