By Ted Scouten


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MIRAMAR (CBSMiami) – A little Christmas cheer in an unlikely place — outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Miramar.

Wednesday morning, three-year-old Wisley Tilus was there with his father and stepmother. He got to pick out a toy and couldn’t have been happier.

“Santa Claus, Papa Noel is here, yay,” said with a bit smile on his face.

His dad liked the message.

“I appreciate that and I am so happy we are here. I can say God bless America,” said Marvius Francois.

There were lots of happy kids and parents, like Margie and Mateo Mendez, in a place where you don’t always see a lot of smiles.

“He wasn’t expecting like that, he was so excited to see the gift, the present. He was excited,” said Margie Mendez.

And getting those smiles is one reason that the group giving out the gifts and spreading the cheer, known as “The Circle of Protection,” is there celebrating the season.

“A few weeks ago we decided it would be great to do something for the immigrants who are forced to report here, to let them know there are people in the United States who welcome them and care about them,” said Bud Conlin with Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees.

Organizers say with the anti-immigrant policies and sentiment coming from the White House, they felt it was more important than ever to be at the facility to spread a message of their own.

“We’re also here to highlight the harshness of Immigration and Customs Enforcement policies and also to encourage the City of Miramar to do what is in their purview to curtail what happens here,’ said Conlin.

The Circle of Protection visits the Miramar facility every Wednesday, bringing food, water, and support to the undocumented immigrants who go facility for monthly check-in sessions.

ICE said some of the group’s claims are untrue. They do have bathrooms and water fountains for those waiting in line. They added that shaded areas are now available for those waiting.

Ted Scouten

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