‘HEAL Pilgrimage’ Kicks Off Saturday, Targets California ICE Detention Centers This Next Week

By The Vanguard Staff

RICHMOND, CA – A “Pilgrimage to HEAL our Communities” started here Saturday—and organizers said the “pilgrimage sets out to stop at Bakersfield, Adelanto, Calexico, and San Diego as part of a multi-year effort to transform the six remaining immigrant (ICE) detention centers into thriving communities with a priority on well-being and life-sustaining economies.”

The pilgrimage travels to the McFarland ICE facility Thursday, with a vigil at the Golden State Annex at 10:30 a.m., and then moves on later that day for a 4 p.m. rally at Mesa Verde ICE Center in Bakersfield.

Friday, the pilgrimage will reach the Adelanto ICE Center in Adelanto at 9 a.m., Saturday it will hold a vigil at the Imperial Regional in Calexico, CA). The final stop will be at 10 a.m. vigil at 10 a.m. at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego.

Faith leaders, community advocates, and immigrants impacted by the criminal-legal system said they will host rallies and dialogues with local communities this week, and demand the “just transition” of these carceral economies toward more sustainable industries.

 The pilgrimage comes after the state of California approved Healthy Economies Adapting to Last (HEAL), a budget allocation the Dignity Not Detention (DND) Coalition won in 2023 and will help facilitate that transition.

Organizers said in a statement participants at the Bay Area Kick-Off event painted colorful banners and showcased a theater skit to articulate the goals of the pilgrimage, noting, “This event marks the beginning of a transformative journey aimed at healing communities and redirecting resources toward sustainable and just alternatives to detention.”

“I join this pilgrimage as someone who has survived these facilities,” said Jose Ruben Hernandez, who was previously detained at Mesa Verde Detention Center before initiating a hunger strike and fighting for their liberation along with the community. “I firmly believe we can heal from the scars incarceration has inflicted on people like me, and in turn on our entire community. 

“California is well-equipped to divest from these dangerous economies and instead invest in something that is more sustainable both for the county and for the state as a whole, as climate change continues to threaten our very existence.”

The pilgrimage, said organizers, “aims to be a catalyst for conversation from which advocates will inform these communities, elected officials and impacted families about a new opportunity to access funds from HEAL. HEAL divests in detention centers and invests in high road jobs and building a sustainable economy.”

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