Thousands Rally Against Family Separation

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

Author: Olivia Lloyd

Thousands of people rallied at the Boston Common on July 30 to protest family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border. At the endpoint of the march, which began at City Hall, speakers such as “Grey’s Anatomy” Sara Ramirez and Mass. Sen. Elizabeth Warren discussed the travel ban and family separation.

“It’s been a hard week … ” Sen. Warren said, referring to how the Supreme Court upheld the travel ban and Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, vacating a seat on the Court that many expect will be filled by a conservative appointee. “But we’re down to our biggest tool: the voices of the people. And we’re going to fight back,” she said.

Protesters interviewed demonstrated a passion against family separation and “racist, anti-poor, anti-women and anti-family” policies, said Jane Higgins, who was marching with her husband Daniel Higgins, a military veteran.

She suggested ranked voting as one step in a solution to solving the issue of the government not executing the people’s will.

“Right now people are so disenfranchised and deflated they lost the heart to get excited,” she said, “and that’s one of the things our universal issue is doing. Everyone can react and respond to this.”

Daniel Lindros stumbled on the march by accident when he was meeting up with friends. He said he knows an Immigrant and Customs and Enforcement agent (ICE) and that ICE was not the main issue. Many protesters held signs that read “Abolish ICE.”

“You can understand that there’s a problem in the justice system,” he said. “They’re going after the enforcers when that’s not the systemic problem.”

Many of those at the rally demonstrated an awareness that it is necessary to advocate for social and political issues year round, not just by attending marches and rallies. There are a variety of ways to get involved, from signing petitions and donating to particular campaigns to affiliating with political organizations and writing letters to representatives.

Meghan Emmert, from Danvers, Mass., said that volunteering or attending meetings of the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and similar associations can help people stay involved all the time.

“I think one thing that people should consider too is holding voter registration drives,” she said, “so that people will turn up to vote in the 2018 midterm elections.”

Family separation takes many forms, and separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border was not the only type that protesters were concerned with.

Keumjoo Armstrong, a woman whose parents emigrated from North Korea in 1951, was passing out flyers about Korean family separation. “We [Peace and Unification Action of Boston] are doing a rally regarding Korean Peace. We have another type of family separation in Korea,” she said. “Thousands of families have been separated by the division and [Korean] War.”

Another catalyst of the rally was the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to uphold the travel ban, which is also keeping families divided. Jennifer Teig von Hoffman of Boston, said the court’s July 26 ruling was a “travesty.”

Photo courtesy of Olivia Lloyd/Pressing the Future.

The public continues to protest and raise awareness of this issue following the June 20 executive order to end family separation, since government administration has not yet established a plan to unite the families that were already separated.

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