Despite Trump signing an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the Mexican border, more than 300 people showed up last night to protest the practice, filling all four corners of State and Anapamu streets. Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, a Chicana and Chicano studies professor at UC Santa Barbara and one of the organizers of Wednesday night’s event, said that while ending family separation is good, “there is still so much wrong that it would be ridiculous to call off the event.”
The protest was originally planned to be a quiet, peaceful vigil. But once the group gathered, one person started chanting, and it became a vocal protest as attendees made their way over to the Sunken Gardens. “People wanted to get a little louder,” said Sandoval. “I think it worked.”
Demonstrator Jatzibe Sandoval comes from a family of immigrants. “I cried a couple of times,” she said, “It’s beautiful knowing we have allies. This is an emotional topic for a lot of us.”
At the Sunken Gardens, organizer Diana Collins Puente described a number of ways to get involved. Call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, she said; contact Congress and “put your money where your mouth is.” “We are nowhere near the end of this struggle,” she told the crowd.
Frank Rodriguez with the Central Coast Immigration Rights Coalition and Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) is working to diminish ICE’s presence in the Santa Barbara community. “The issue is here, not just at the border,” he said. “Criticize ICE here in Camarillo, Santa Maria, in our jails ― no one from our 805 community should be taken away from us.”
The overarching theme of Wednesday’s protest was immigrants deserving a place in the community. The message came across in chants, signs, speakers’ comments, and planned actions. “The goal is not to defend our community,” said Vicente Garcia from Future Leaders of America. “It’s to love our community. … This is not who we have to be.”
Another demonstration is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 30, at De la Guerra Plaza in conjunction with nationwide protests against Trump’s immigration policies.