“I do this in part because someday my grandchildren will read about this in the history books and be distraught over the travesty and inhumanity of it and will ask me, ‘Grandma, how could you have let this happen?'” said Terry Schimmel to me at the Vigil to End Family Separation. “And I want to be able to say that I did everything I could to stop it.”
Over sixty people showed up outside the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offices on Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick Thursday morning to demand an end to the policy of separating immigrant parents and children at the border. The Trump policy of “zero tolerance” for crossing the border without mandated documentation has led to a new awareness of the cruelty happening every day at our southern border.
Since our last action at CBP, the United States continues to take children from the arms of their parents and violate the human rights of refugees. The separation of families produces long-lasting psychological harm and permanent loss of life. Last week, the New York Times reported that a 5-year old boy from Honduras “cried himself to sleep at night with a stick-figure drawing of his family under his pillow”. The Washington Post reported that Marco Muñoz, a 39 year old also from Honduras, killed himself after his 3-year old was forcibly taken from his arms, and today, CNN reported that federal officials forcibly took a child from their mother while breastfeeding.
This was the second action at this location, but in many ways it was very different. The police presence was intensified. Last time one Warwick Police Officer rolled by, told be people to be careful, gave a thumb’s up and drove off. This time at least four police cruisers and as many officers positioned themselves in the parking lot, keeping a watchful eye on the vigil.
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This event also brought more interest from elected officials and people seeking elected office. Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and gubernatorial candidate Matt Brown were in attendance, as was Representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Providence) who is running for Lieutenant Governor, and Deya Garcia and Michael Araujo who are running for Providence City Council.
The Reverend Charles Blustein Ortman, Minister of Immigration and Sanctuary, at the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, and Reverend Santiago Rodriguez, Pastor of Gloria Del Lutheran Church, said a few words to the crowd, but otherwise it was a silent, introspective vigil, with some private conversations between attendees.
Here’s the video. First up is Gabriela Domenzain:
Charles Blustein Ortman
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