Megastars Juanes and John Legend held a concert in the most unlikely of places today — deep in the Arizona desert, in front of the Eloy Immigration Detention Center, where an estimated 1,500 immigrants are currently being held.
The center is the second largest of its kind in the country, located about 100 miles from the Mexican border.
The goal of the concert: bring light to our country’s misguided immigration policies, and transform America’s criminal justice system. Last year, hundreds of immigrant detainees participated in a hunger strike at the center, citing what they said was ongoing abuse and neglect. Subsequent reports have alleged that federal authorities have been complicit in hiding mistreatment in the facility.
A few dozen immigration activists watched the duo perform on a small stage in front of the center, after the facility declined to let them perform inside.
Fusion’s Mariana Atencio was on the scene, working on an upcoming story for AMERICA with Jorge Ramos, which will be airing next Tuesday at 10pm on Fusion.
Prior to playing, both Juanes and Legend took tours of the facility. They also stopped by the Maricopa County Jail, run by notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose controversial immigration enforcement policies have sparked several lawsuits. Earlier this week, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled against Arpaio’s argument that President Obama’s policy of allowing undocumented children to stay in the country would lead to an increase of crime in his jurisdiction.
In a video posted on his Instagram, Legend said the event is helping inform “how the immigration system interacts with our mass incarceration system.”
“Imprisonment in all its forms is an inhumane practice,” Juanes added on Twitter.