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#FreeThem All - Contagion in the Camps

Tsuru for Solidarity has been focusing our energy on socially distant ways to support the urgent health crisis facing immigrants in detention – the Covid-19 outbreak and the desperate need to release those being held now to find safety from this deadly pandemic. As a way to support the #FreeThemAll campaign led by immigrant rights groups and Detention Watch Network, we launched a powerful series of actions called “Contagion in the Camps.” The focus has been to draw parallels between our own experiences with epidemics and illness in the WWII concentration camps with what is happening today to highlight the urgency of the current situation. 

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Free My Friends

The Daruma is a doll fashioned after Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. The Daruma has come to represent good luck and perseverance. During the Edo period, the Daruma came to be known as a talisman of healing against epidemic diseases, particularly for children. We invoke the healing power and mercy of the Daruma in this moment of great suffering when children are being detained and dying inside detention sites due to COVID-19.
Please join us in a socially distant/ safe direct action from home that families and children can participate in together:
  • Download artist Marie Johnston’s coloring page “Daruma’s Wish to End Child Detention”. There are two versions available to download: one saying “end child detention” available to download here and the second version here with the messaging “Shut Down Berks” for our direct action at Berks on Friday.
  • Color + decorate the Daruma!
  • Take a selfie holding your Daruma
  • Post it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #FreeThemAll and tag the governors of Pennsylvania (@governortomwolf) and Texas (@governorabbott for instagram, @GovAbbott for Twitter).
We will amplify the Free My Friends campaign on all our social media outlets. The action is intended to escalate pressure to close family detention sites as we approach the July 17th date of the court order by Judge Gee to free detained children due to the pandemic. We are demanding that parents are also released due to the pandemic and that ICE does not separate families and deport the parents.
We want to raise attention to the Berks Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania where the majority of detained families are Black and Haitian. Tsuru for Solidarity East Coast chapters will be holding a protest at Berks on July 17th, 2020 at 11:30 a.m.
There are also family detention sites in Texas at Karnes and at Dilley, where the first Tsuru for Solidarity protest took place in 2019.
Family detention is just one aspect of an expansive system of detention and deportation in the U.S. Over 60,000 people are currently detained and being exposed to COVID-19 by ICE. Tsuru for Solidarity is joining Detention Watch Network, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, Haitian Bridge Alliance and the Shut Down Berks Coalition to demand that ICE immediately release all people inside detention facilities.
Here are some of the resources we put together as part of our Contagion in the Camps series:  
Bruce Embrey, Marge Tanikawa, Satsuki Ina, and Roger Shimomura shared personal, heartbreaking, and urgent stories of how these illnesses affected their families long after the camps closed. 
We are adding more stories to this series, contact us at if you wish to participate.
We created a Contagion in the Camps video on Facebook and hosted our first watch party.
The video featured a conversation between Maru Mora Villalpando, Bárbara Suarez, and Satsuki Ina, with Carl Takei facilitating.
In partnership with JACL, we created a letter-writing campaign to Congress to urge our representatives to direct ICE to let people go. Each day immigrants remain detained poses new threats to their health and safety. Join us in asking to #DefundHate and release immigrants being held in detention:

Posts and Articles:

By Densho 
Epidemics in American Concentration Camps: From the “White Plague” to COVID-19 
By Natasha Varner

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