Commentary: In continued opposition to the Trump administration’s inhumane practice of separating children from their parents, community members and advocates of local and national organizations held a vigil this Father’s Day in front of the Ursula Border Patrol Processing Center to say #FamiliesBelongTogether, and announced a plan for large-scale mobilization to the Rio Grande Valley on June 28 to demand an end to this cruel policy and humanitarian crisis.
During the vigil, 12-year-old Leah from Florida and Secretary Julian Castro knocked on the door of the Processing Center where children are being separated from their parents to share letters and cards of support from everyday people across the country. Instead of welcome, they were met with silence and a door that remained closed.
Leah said, “Trump is enjoying father’s day while children are in cages, in detention. Trump wants to take my dad away from me... I want to tell kids at the border and all over the country not to give up. I won’t give up. It is my right as a child to live in peace with my father.”
Her messages of solidarity and love were echoed by fathers and grandfathers, faith leaders and community members from around the country, including Ai-Jen Poo of National Domestic Workers Alliance, Secretary Julian Castro, Congressman Filemon Vela, Jr., George Goehl of People’s Action and Rosa San Luis from from Fuerza del Valle. People from throughout the country are also sending messages to the children and their families through the website: www.familiesbelongtogether.org
During the vigil, community leaders announced a mass mobilization to Brownsville, Texas on June 28th led by the ACLU and other organizations.
Below are some of the statements from the vigil:
“We will continue to fight every single day. This administration can reverse this policy at any time, right now. We demand that they do it,” said Ai-jen Poo, director of National Domestic Worker Alliance and co-founder of the We Belong Together campaign. “On June 28 there will be a major mobilization along the border, and then to the steps of the White House to demand immediate end to family separation. Children are being held hostage, being traumatized, and in danger. We have to let these children know we are here and we will not stop fighting until they are reunited with their families.”
“Being able to protect your child should not be a privilege. It should be a promise,” said George Goehl, director of People’s Action, who spent Father’s Day at the border with his 7-year-old daughter. “We need people who supported Donald Trump to say this is not okay and I no longer support this man. And history shows us in situations like this, if we do not stand up in mass and say this is not okay, it’s hard to get back on track.”
“We are facing the separation of families, children, toddlers, from their parents. As you all know, those who come to this country are here to assert the right to life and the desire to live,” saidAllyson Duarte, beneficiary of the DACA program, border community activist and member United We Dream. “We know that family unity is fundamental and we are here to stay and here to fight for our right to exist.”
“For years we’ve been fighting against family separation at the border, but this new administration has doubled down its efforts to hurt immigrant families,” said Rosa Sanluis, community organizer with Fuerza del Valle. “What is happening is inhumane. It’s time to leave our communities and fight back. Yes we can!”