In an emotional display of solidarity, more than 140 people gathered in Carpinteria to protest the separation of immigrant families at U.S. borders. The Families Belong Together rally put on by Indivisible Carpinteria joined the events taking place nationwide on Thursday to put pressure on the Trump administration, from Democrats and Republicans alike, for its “zero-tolerance” policy of separating parents and children at the border.
Most recently, House Speaker Paul Ryan publicly denounced the practice. Carpinteria Indivisible cofounder Leslie Westbrook agreed: “The separation of children from their parents is a humanitarian emergency, and the UN has declared it so.” As did many speakers at the solidarity event, Carpinteria Mayor Fred Shaw stripped himself of his affiliation: “I’m not here representing the city, I’m here representing families,” he said. “Families are the building block of our entire society, and we are here tonight to honor them.”
As Maureen Foley Claffey spoke, as well as attorney Marisol Alarcon, audience members were moved to tears. Claffey, a member of the Carpinteria School Board, spoke of the abuse reported by the ACLU in detention centers, including children being punched, kicked, and threatened with sexual abuse. Alarcon has volunteered at detention centers and spoke of the intense trauma and suffering she has seen in the children who were separated from their parents.
When Rev. Dr. David Moore of the New Covenant Church took the microphone, he expressed the need for love and kindness, but he didn’t shrink from taking on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s assertion that the separation of families is supported by the Bible. “[I]n the economy of Jesus, humanity always has the right of way,” he said. “Your laws may have a purpose, but their purpose fails if they cannot undergird, support, and protect the dignity of what it means to be human.” Continue to humanize the issue and the immigrant community, urged Frank Rodriguez of CAUSE (Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy), spurring people to transcend party lines.
Closing out the night, activist Sarah Gore Maiani cited conservative columnist Michael Gerson of the Washington Post. He’d pointed out that “few human beings would treat other human beings in this manner, which is exactly why Trump and [Chief of Staff John] Kelley must present ‘illegals’ as lesser beings defined by their criminality.” Maini stressed that dehumanizing immigrants and viewing them as “lesser-than” are the only way anyone could morally support this policy.
Indivisible Carpinteria, always the activist organization, asked all to call congressional representatives in support of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s “Keep Families Together” bill [1 (844) 311-7810]. The organizations working to protect kids separated from their families by ICE are in need of donations and assistance. They are The Florence Project, Human Rights First, We Belong Together, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, Women’s Refugee Commission, the ACLU, United We Dream Action, La Union Del Pueblo Entero, and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).