By Shayna Lewis on July 2, 2018
It was blazing hot across much of the United States over the weekend, but nothing stopped the hundreds of thousands of people who came together, marched together, and rose together to ensure that immigrant families in the United States stay together.
Individuals from immigrant-friendly areas and conservative communities alike took to the streets in more than 700 planned Families Belong Together events to say “no” in mass resistance to the Trump administration’s increasingly destructive, negative, racist immigration policies and “yes” to protecting immigrants’ rights to seek asylum and to due process. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) was a proud partner in the Day of Action.
At the anchor event in Washington, D.C. speakers included celebrities, seasoned activists, and individuals personally affected by the President’s “zero humanity” policies. Leah, a 12-year-old girl from Miami, Fla., denounced the policies while bravely holding back tears as she shared her “constant fear of losing my mom to deportation. My mom is strong, beautiful and brave. She is also a person who taught me how to speak up when I see things that aren’t fair…I don’t want to live with this fear.”
Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys reminded participants, “This is all of our fight. Because if it can happen to any child, it can happen to my child and your child and all of our children.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren enlivened the crowd at the Together and Free: Rally Against Family Separation in Boston, Mass. when she called for a ‘do-over’ on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to create a system that reflects our values. Congressman Joe Kennedy III said, “We stand up, and we say: Not on our watch, not while we can march…We will win. It might not be today, but it will be tomorrow.”
UUSC staff, families, friends, and allies joined the actions in Washington, D.C. and Boston. Here are their reflections on the Day of Action:
“In Boston on Saturday I was proud to be among the thousands confirming, “WE DO CARE.” We cared enough to come out in the heat with our passionate demands for a just and humane response to people fleeing desperate conditions. #Families(do)BelongTogether and there is so much that is broken at our border and in the hearts of some of our leaders.” – UUSC’s newly welcomed President and Chief Executive Officer Rev. Mary Katherine Morn.
“It was so good to be among tens of thousands across the U.S., the individuals and organizations working for change, on Saturday’s national day of action #FamiliesBelongTogether. We are facing a threat to basic human rights in the United States on several fronts. Collectively, we need to remind and press the administration, Congress, and the Supreme Court to protect human rights, not undermine them.” – Meredith Larson, director of advocacy, organizing, and strategic communications.
“The immediate goal of Saturday’s action was to undo the heinous ‘zero tolerance’ policy. As leaders of countless impacted communities addressed us from the stage in Lafayette Square, however, it became about something even bigger as well: ending the racism that tries to target and tear apart all families of color.” – Josh Leach, associate for programs, research, and advocacy.
Pictured above: Susan Leslie (Unitarian Universalist Association), Pablo de Jesus (UUs for Social Justice), Meredith Larson (UUSC), Michael Crumpler (Unitarian Universalist Association), and Josh Leach (UUSC).
“Being here with my family makes me realize how important family connections are. I couldn’t imagine being separated from my children. What this country is doing is against all standards of decency.” – Charles Hafter, pictured here with his two daughters.
“This weekend’s rally and the crowd here in Boston reminded me that we must not give up this fight and that our voices matter. I’m encouraged that so many people across the country, including in my own community see this administration’s policies for what they are: racist, discriminatory and harmful.” – Shayna Lewis, senior program leader for digital strategy and public affairs.
Whether by separating and detaining families, cancelling Temporary Protected Status for U.S. residents of countries recovering from disaster, banning people from entering the United States because of their religion, or ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Trump administration is actively working to harm immigrant members of our shared community every day. Supporting Saturday’s National Day of Action on Family Separation is just one way that UUSC is using our platform and encouraging our supporters to mobilize on these issues. We refuse to be silent and will continue to demand better from our leaders.