WOODSTOCK – Shouts of “Reunite, it’s only right!” filled the Woodstock Square as hundreds turned out Sunday afternoon to decry President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and demand that parents who were separated from their children at the border be reunited.
The Families Belong Together rally was held amid nationwide outcry to the Trump administration’s controversial zero tolerance policy.
“I’m here to show that [the children] aren’t alone and that people do care,” said 19-year-old Annie Velasco, who attended her first rally Sunday. “I think that’s important, representing our people especially.”
Another rally, spearheaded by 16th Congressional District candidate Sara Dady, was held June 8 at First Street and Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, one week after eight workers were arrested during an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid at Alfredo’s Iron Works in Cortland.
Velasco, of Woodstock, said she’s happy Sunday’s event was peaceful, but worries Latinos are becoming less likely to attend such events for fear of racism or being targeted by law enforcement officials.
She held a sign that read, “We’re the seeds that go unwatered and still rise.”
Patricia Buhrman of Janesville, Wisconsin, held a sign calling Trump a child abuser and wore a silver blanket many of the detained children are given.
“I have seven children and 13 grandchildren. When I was young and my daughter was 1-year-old, I was sick and had to leave her with my mother for a long period of time. It was devastating, and I was letting her stay with my mother, not strangers,” Buhrman said. “I can’t imagine the fear of the parents who can’t be with their kids.”
The demonstration came days after the Trump administration reversed its course in the face of intense public and political outrage.
On Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order to stop separating migrant children from their parents. The move, however, spread confusion along the border, with officials sending conflicting signals about the state of the administration’s zero tolerance policy, The Associated Press reported.
Children have been sent to shelters across the country, raising alarms that parents might never know where their children can be found, according to The AP.
As of Wednesday, 2,053 minors who were separated at the border were being cared for in Health and Human Services-funded facilities, according to a fact sheet on zero-tolerance prosecution and family reunification released Saturday night by the Department of Homeland Security.
The administration said it now will seek to detain immigrant families during its immigration proceedings.
“There are 66 children that we have been told of in Chicago. There are children in Michigan. We only know what we’re being told because nobody’s allowed to go see,” said Elizabeth Vonau, a local attorney who has represented migrants and works with victims of domestic violence.
Vonau said children and their parents could wind up in the McHenry County Jail, which has an immigration detention center.
“They could start housing families in the McHenry County Jail. Who knows? They put the mom, the dad and the kid together in the jail,” Vonau said.