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MTC is not invested in Wyoming and is not listening to the community voices.

This is the second year of Fiesta de Familias in Wyoming. Wyo say No and ACLU Wyoming have partnered with numerous local organizations to host these events and showcase community voice against the Evanston MTC detention center. Please visit the Facebook page at for additional information about the Evanston Fiesta de Familias on August 18th, 2019.

Community Banner from the 2018 Evanston Fiesta de Familias

Group wraps up protest events against detention center –Gillette News Record

Photo by Sheila McGuire, Uinta County Herald)
Evanston’s Lubia Olivas and her daughter Sophia paint their hands to leave handprints on a banner reading “Evanston Dice No,” Spanish for “Evanston Says No,” at the WyoSayNo Fiesta de Familias event held to oppose the proposed ICE detention center.

EVANSTON — WyoSayNo, the statewide group that has organized to fight the proposal for an ICE detention center in Uinta County, wrapped up a series of protest events that have been held throughout the summer with a stop in Evanston on Sunday, Aug. 19.

Approximately 100 people stopped by the Fiesta de Familias at Hamblin Park throughout the evening to offer their support for immigrant families and others opposed to the proposal. U.S. Senate candidate Gary Trauner and House of Representatives candidate Travis Helm returned to Evanston for the fiesta as well.

A pair of documentary filmmakers from New York were also present, having been commissioned by Netflix to create a documentary on immigration policy and detention centers.

The two largely remained in the background filming for a portion of the evening but did ask anyone who did not want to be filmed to raise their hand so they could be avoided.

The pair spoke with several attendees to set up meetings later in the week and will be at the work session meeting with the Uinta County Commissioners this week.

Fiestas have also been held in Laramie, Cheyenne, Gillette, Riverton, Jackson, Cody, Powell and in Utah throughout the summer.

Event organizers said the purpose is to show unified statewide opposition to the detention center and to support those in Uinta County who oppose the proposal.

Kortney Clark, working with Uinta County Say No, opened the fiesta by listing six reasons local people are opposed to the proposal. She said Evanston is about community and family and residents do not support a facility that would take families and people out of the community.

Clark said Management and Training Corporation (MTC, the private company behind the proposal) is “a Utah-based business that Utah will not do business with,” and asked why Uinta County would want a facility that Utah has declined.

She also said that, regardless of how MTC labels the facility, “this is a prison” where people are locked up for a civil offense. She listed issues with MTC in particular, stating there have been multiple court cases and lawsuits against the company for human rights abuses, including rape, and asked again why Uinta County would want to welcome such a company.

Clark addressed the proposed location of the detention center next to the Bear River State Park, where visitors and locals stop to view wildlife and recreate.

“As a friend of mine asked,” she said, “who will ever stop to see the elk and the bison next to a prison?”

Finally, she said Evanston is a community where everyone celebrates the spirit of community at cultural events such as Cinco de Mayo and Chinese New Year, the Celtic Festival and the Bluegrass Festival.

She said, “We even celebrate beer with Brew Fest,” before saying an ICE detention center is not what the community is about.

Following Clark’s remarks, Sabrina King, with the Wyoming ACLU and WyoSayNo, spoke and said the opposition campaign had started as “15 people in a cold room” and has grown to include hundreds of people around the state.

She said she believes the campaign has garnered enough support that it is “inevitable that we will win.”

King said there are numerous people in the local community who oppose the facility and WyoSayNo aims to show people that the rest of Wyoming is with those locals who “know it’s not good for the community.”

She said the opposition to the proposed detention center is part of a broader national campaign to end civil ICE detention entirely because people are being locked up for something that is not a criminal offense adding that historically, “we don’t put people in jail for wanting to move.”

Antonio Serrano, WyoSayNo and ACLU organizer and founder of Juntos Wyoming, an immigrant family advocacy group, said he was born and raised in Wyoming and loves the state. Serrano got personal and said his father came to the U.S. when he was 14 years old and “crossed that desert looking for a better life.”

Serrano said he had made two visits to an ICE detention center in Eloy, Arizona, and had the opportunity to hear the stories of detainees at that facility. Serrano said he heard of lack of mental health services resulting in suicide and a case of a pregnant woman losing her baby due to lack of healthcare.

He said he returned this year and his feelings were different because he’s now afraid such a facility could end up in his home state.

“I heard a lot of sad stories and I’ve seen a lot of tears,” he said. “We need people in Evanston to speak up and stop this, and we’ll be right here with you for support.”

Following Serrano’s comments, Evanston resident Alfredo Parra stepped up and asked to speak. Parra said he wanted to tell the local Latino community to show up and speak out, even if they’re afraid.

“Even if you’re scared, be here,” he said, adding that it’s important for Latinos to “show the community how valuable Latinos are” to multiple local businesses and organizations.

In addition to the public comments, the fiesta featured food and music, along with piñatas and activities for kids.

Attendees were also asked to paint their hands to leave handprints on banners reading, “Evanston Dice No,” and “Wyoming Dice No,” Spanish for “Evanston Says No” and “Wyoming Says No,” respectively, as a sign of support for the campaign.

Handprint-covered banners were on display from the other communities in which fiestas were held over the summer.

At the end of the evening, Serrano said he was very pleased with the turnout, especially with the number of Latinos in attendance because he believes many are afraid to speak out. He said the WyoSayNo campaign will continue with the “next steps,” but declined to elaborate on what those steps will entail.

He did say, “It’s an honor to do what I do and help immigrant families, but we need Latinos in Evanston and Uinta County to stand with me. I’ll be right here with you, but we need you. Be brave, even when it’s hard.”

Gillette Fiesta de Familias 2018

Fremont County Fiesta de Familias 2018

Fiesta de Familias in Powell (From Wyoming Rising)
Previous Fiesta from 2018

The Fiesta de Familias is coming to Powell! Wyoming Rising is happy to co-host this event celebrating our community and the families that live in it.

In light of the actions of ICE, the Justice Department, and the proposed immigration prison in Uinta County, #WyoSayNo is partnering with local organizations across the state to build community and solidarity and talk about how we can take action here in Wyoming to stop family separations not just at the border, but everywhere.

Bring the whole family to Gestalt Coffee Shop and Art Gallery to have some fun, snacks and drinks, good conversations and activities for the kids!

Spread the word!

“To go along with a social media campaign, #WyoSayNo is providing a community art project [for each community Fiesta]. This will be a canvas banner that reads “(town name) say NO!”. Using paint, members of the community (adults and children) will put hand prints on to show support. The hand prints are meant to show that people in Wyoming are coming together hand in hand against the possible prison in Uinta County.

We understand fear of losing a family member is a strong thing, and we understand why people are reluctant or unable to add their name to a petition or letter of support. When presenting the banner let people know this is a way they can raise their hand in opposition to the prison and to show support for the people on the front lines of this fight.”

Date : July 11th 2018
Time : 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Address : Gestalt Coffee Shop / 440 W. Park St, Powell, WY;

Powell Fiesta de Familias 2018