How Northwest Arkansans are responding to the immigration crisis at the US border


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFTA) — Northwest Arkansans are demanding the closure of detention facilities holding immigrant children and families.

Dozens of people showed up to Senator Tom Cotton’s office in Springdale on Tuesday demanding those detention centers be closed after reports migrants are being held in inhumane conditions.

The crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border was being compared to concentration camps that once housed Jewish people during the Holocaust.

“Lets get together and speak up,” says protestor Gwynne Gertz. “I’m here for a very simple reason, nothing complicated. I do not want my country to have concentration camps. I can not be any more explicit than that.”

Gertz stood outside of Cotton’s office demanding the detention camps be closed, and funding be cut off for them.

“As an individual, there is something you can do. Whether it’s coming out here and expressing your rage, writing letters, going to Homestead, Florida, and actually witnessing it,” she said.

Meanwhile, another local group says they’re ready to welcome more people into the community.

Canopy NWA, the only refugee resettlement agency in the state, partners with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

“Our affiliate is actually actively on the border, they are working with children and trying to find them safe foster care,” says Lauren Snodgrass, Director of Community Engagement.

Canopy NWA says it’s fully prepared to help people who are given asylum after being in detention centers.

“Some of them will actually be given asylum in the U.S. If we don’t have the resources and places, the resettlement sites like Canopy to help them establish their new home here in the United States, that could be detrimental to them and our communities,” Snodgrass said.

It’s currently welcoming nine new refugee cases to Northwest Arkansas. Snodgrass says some of these people have been in camps for decades.

“Our dream and our goal is that refugees and the community would thrive together.”

– Lauren Snodgrass, Canopy NWA

Until then, Gertz says she’s going to continue to demand change. “Whatever you can do, to do something, just do something” she said.

KNWA reached out to Senator Cotton for his reaction to the protest. He declined to comment.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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