BELTON — The light of democracy shined brightly Friday evening as two opposing sides voiced their opinions outside the Bell County Courthouse.
A protest, called Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps and organized by the Bell County Democrats, focused on the conditions of migrant detention camps.
More than 30 people supported the Lights for Liberty event while a smaller counter protest supporting President Donald Trump’s immigration policies took place across the street.
About nine people waved Trump banners and shouted at protesters outside the courthouse.
“I don’t want the criminals and I don’t want the gang members, but there are so many (immigrants) that are integrated into our communities that are not legal but are working and are paying taxes,” Resident Debby Bridge said. “Just because it is the law doesn’t mean it is right. Our country needs these people, and we are a big enough country that we can absorb these people.”
The Belton demonstration was one of more than 600 events across the country on Friday evening, according to the Lights for Liberty organization. The protests grew from five main events for El Paso; San Diego; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Homestead, Fla.
Some protesting the immigration facilities saw the issue between the two camps as a fight between compassion and intolerance.
“If we compare the reactions, it is hatred versus humanity as far as we are concerned,” said William Rosenberg, Senate district representative for the Texas Democratic Party. “How do you make a logical and factually based argument that what we are doing to these children is any way right or humane? It is crazy.”
For the counter protestors, who located themselves across the street from the Lights event, following the law was the biggest factor for them.
Temple resident CJ Grisham said he doesn’t care how many people come into the United States as long as they do so legally.
“Our message here is that we want out immigration laws enforced, period,” said Grisham, president of the gun rights group Open Carry Texas. “We don’t believe in open borders where anyone can come all they want. Americans can’t do that and people shouldn’t be able to do that coming into America.”
Border apprehensions have dropped more than 30 percent in June, the Texas Tribune reported.
More than 144,000 migrants were apprehended or denied entry to the United Stations in May, the Tribune reported. About half of those were adults with children and 8 percent were unaccompanied minors.