The voices of Glynn County residents on Saturday joined a nationwide chorus that has recently cried out against the separation of immigrant parents and children at the United States-Mexican border.
A large crowd gathered Saturday morning outside City Hall in downtown Brunswick for a “Families Belong Together” rally hosted by Women’s Voices of Glynn County. Most participants wore white and carried homemade protest signs.
The rally coincided with similar events that took place across the country this weekend to protest the “zero tolerance” policy that led to a large-scale practice of splitting up parents and children of immigrant families who were captured by law enforcement while illegally crossing the border.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 to end the practice of splitting up families. However, it is estimated that more than 2,000 children remain separated from their parents and no clear process has been established to reunite families, according to reports.
“As I look over all of the people here today, I want to let immigrants know that they are not alone,” said Julie Jordan, a member of Women’s Voices of Glynn County and a candidate for House District 179. “Thousands of people around the country at over 750 rallies that started just now when we did are speaking together with the same voice — a voice that has been deafening throughout the country in the last weeks proclaiming that separating children from their parents is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
A federal judge ordered last week for the Trump administration to speed up the reunification process.
The event Saturday included several speakers, including Deacon Willetta McGowen of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, who spoke on how to lead with love during these troubling times.
“We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” she said. “All people have value, and no one should be disregarded because of status.”
She said she’s been dismayed and shocked by the treatment of immigrant families at the U.S. border.
“I couldn’t understand how our administration could possibly sanction separating children from their parents and sending them to a detention center,” McGowen said. “How could any human being with a compassionate heart think that this was OK?”
Isabela Cortez, an insurance agent in Brunswick and self-described advocate for the local Hispanic community, said many immigrants flee their countries to escape violence and poverty. Her own parents moved to America from Mexico to seek a better life more than 30 years ago, she said.
“As a mother, I can only imagine the traumatizing experience these families are going through,” said Cortez, who translated portions of her speech into Spanish. “… Separating children from their parents is not just cruel. It is torture.”
Other speakers at the rally included Catherine McCall, a retired family therapist who spoke about the traumatic toll this experience will have on the children. Local students Kobe Mikes and Hannah Brown called for continued action from the community.
“The treatment that these people are receiving is inhumane and wrong,” Mikes said. “… We have to continue to speak up and be wiling to do the right thing, just because it’s the right thing to do.”