Prospect Heights

Photos: Brooklyn students march for migrant children held at border

November 11, 2019 Paul Frangipane
Dozens of schoolchildren, alongside Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, marched through the streets of Brooklyn to stand in solidarity with migrant children separated from their families at the southern border. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

Dozens of schoolchildren and their parents marched through the streets of Brooklyn on Saturday morning to show solidarity for migrant children who are being held in detention facilities at the southern border.

Hosted by U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke, the group began at Barclays Center, made their way up Atlantic Avenue and over Vanderbilt Avenue to Grand Army Plaza, where students were able to voice their opposition to the Trump administration’s immigration policies. The inspiration for the march, Clarke said, came from several letters sent to her by children in her district.

“It was heartwarming to know that children are paying attention, that they want our nation to be compassionate, that they want our nation to treat refugees with dignity and humanity,” Clarke said. “We were horrified to see children … seeking refuge in the United States of America, only to be dehumanized, only to be separated by their parents, only to be treated less than how we would want to be treated.”

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Clarke led the pack with three students from MACADEMY School of Science and Technology. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
Clarke led the pack with three students from MACADEMY School of Science and Technology. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

Clarke led the march, and alongside her in the front of the pack were Uriel Wilson, age 8, Janelle McGrowder, age 7 and Jessica Tirelus, age 6, all of MACADEMY School of Science and Technology. Once they got to Grand Army Plaza, the three had some things to say.

“I am heartbroken that some leaders are being malicious and taking children away from their families,” McGrowder said. “I want to use my voice to change the world. I want to say: Let us stand up for immigrant children.”

Tirelus said she came to the march to show empathy for the children at the border and Wilson posed a philosophical question to the crowd.

“Think about this,” the 8-year-old said. “If you have resources to help, would that make the world better if you helped, or turned your back?”

Uriel Wilson, center, speaks to the crowd with her fellow students Janelle McGrowder, left, and Jessica Tirelus. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
Uriel Wilson, center, speaks to the crowd with her fellow students Janelle McGrowder, left, and Jessica Tirelus. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

Since July 2017, there have been nearly 5,500 children separated from the parents at the border of the U.S. and Mexico, many of whom were seeking asylum from violence in their home countries.


When a judge ordered an injunction barring the practice on June 26, 2018, children were released to sponsors, including other relatives, but immigration attorneys are still trying to locate families.

The Brooklyn protest may have been more than 2,000 miles from the border, but MESA Charter High School student Manar Dihyem, 17, said their far-away contributions still mean something.

MESA Charter High School students, Edwin Ramirez and Manar Dihyem recite their poem, "Set Them Free." Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
MESA Charter High School students, Edwin Ramirez and Manar Dihyem recite their poem, “Set Them Free.” Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

“I think it’s a really important thing to come out and support,” Dihyem said. “Whatever we do is never going to be enough, but just coming out means a lot.”

Sharing a microphone with her fellow student, Edwin Ramirez, 17, Dihyem recited their poem, “Set Them Free.”

“We must not stop voicing for those who are unable to speak, we must stand tall and use our voices to allow the truth to be leaked,” the two recited from the poem in unison. “Let us be us, let us be immigrants.”


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