Downtown

VIDEO: New Yorkers protest immigrant family separation policies

June 15, 2018 By Liliana Bernal Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Equipped with a box of chalk, children decorated the pavement outside Borough Hall with messages against the federal government’s decision to separate immigrant families at the border with Mexico. Eagle photos by Paul Frangipane

As part of a nationwide rally, hundreds of people gathered at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Thursday to protest the federal government’s policy to forcibly separate immigrant children from their parents when apprehended at the border by immigration authorities.

The policy has taken away hundreds of kids as young as 1 to 5 years old who came with their families, who are often times looking for asylum.

“This policy actually has not only been deemed punitive by the United Nations, it violates our commitments with the international community, it violates the international declaration of human rights, it violates 1967 protocol on the status of refugees,” said Amanda Sawyer of Families Belong Together, the group that organized the rally.

The Trump administration has said the tactic is used to deter immigration but as immigrants seeking asylum are often fleeing dangerous situations in their home countries, they will resort to illegal methods of getting their children into the country. One way, Sawyer said, would be giving their children to traffickers to transport them instead.

The rally was made up mainly of families with children who were sympathetic to the immigrants’ situation.

“I have an 18-month-old. I can’t imagine somebody taking him from me,” said demonstrator Evelyn Malave. “These are not parents that neglected their kids, these are parents by and large that are all seeking to give their children a better life and many of whom … are fleeing threats of violence, death, rape, they had no choice but to do that and I would’ve done the same thing in their position.”

Nancy Hernandez, a Guatemalan immigrant and U.S. citizen who was brought to the U.S. 51 years ago when she was 6 years old, said that the memory of being away from her mother has been with her throughout her life.

“I can’t even imagine what these children are going through, being locked up in cages like dogs, being without their mother and father, not speaking the language, not understanding what’s happening,” Hernandez said. “And I still have a little bit of faith that they’re not being raped or starved or beaten, but you never know.”

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