Resisting the “Zero Tolerance” Immigration Detention Program

People throughout the United States gathered in communities and cities around the country to protest the separation and detention of asylum-seeking families. The largest one was held in Washington, DC.  The one I attended was on the other side of the country at one of the Federal Detention Centers where adults, but not their children, have been sent to.  This detention center is located just south of the Seattle-Tacoma (SeaTac) International Airport.  Thousands of people came out to protest the US Department of Justice’s “Zero Tolerance” policy of separating children from their parents when the parents attempt to cross our borders seeking asylum.

People were passionate and peaceful. The following shows our thoughts in pictures and words.  I posted some of these pictures on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  My thoughts were attached to those pictures. The rest I believe speak for themselves.  Here’s my photo gallery of the day.

Heading to the Rally

Due to the expected crowds and lack of parking near the Federal Detention Center, we parked at the north end of Seattle at the University of Washington. This is the northern terminus of the Seattle Light Rail line.  Angle Lake is the southern terminus of the the rail line and is located about 2 blocks from the detention center.

picture of My selfie of my twin sister and myself on the Seattle Light Rail heading to the #BringFamiliesTogetherMarch at Angle Lake south of SeaTac, WA. We are sitting on the train. My sister in the white hat is on the left and I'm on the right wearing a fushia-colored hat.

Selfie of my twin sister and myself on the Seattle Light Rail heading to the #BringFamiliesTogetherMarch at Angle Lake south of SeaTac, WA.

The Crowds

The light rail train we were on had standing room only when we arrived.

picture of the Federal Detention Center with cars driving down street and people walking towards the rally in front of the building
The Federal Detention Center at Angle Lake just south of SeaTac, WA. This ominous structure with the slit-like windows was what loomed over us as we stepped off the train.

There were police everywhere but the road was open. People kept coming; the crowd continued to grow. Several times the speakers asked people to “slowly move forward and south” so that more people could enter the area. By the time we left we could see why…

20180630_123114 crowd

The police closed the road at the Federal Detention Center due to the 1000’s of people who came out to say #enddetentionnow, #bringfamiliestogether, #FreedomForImmigrants and #EndFamilySeparation at one of several #FamiliesBelongTogetherMarch in the Seattle area. – at Federal Detention Center (from my Twitter feed).

The Police Presence

They were everywhere. At the train station. Standing on the street. In their cars. On the rooftops. All in uniform.  I didn’t “see” any in the crowd within the rally site, but I did assume they were there in civilian clothing.

It was a bit overwhelming.  My thoughts about the police presence were expressed with this photo:

picture of a federal agent surveilling the crowd attendees.

Is this what we have come to here in the US?! Asylum is a human right. SHAME! #enddetentionnow #KeepFamilesTogether – at Federal Detention Center (as posted on my twitter feed).

Only about a 1,000 people had been expected to show up for the rally. Yet, we came in droves.  According to Sgt. Cindy Sampson, spokesperson for the King County Sheriff’s Office, police estimated that there were around 10,000 demonstrators.  She told the Seattle Times that we we showed up for a highly emotional, but peaceful, demonstration full of strollers, grandmothers and a small contingent from the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club.”  [This Gun Club, according to the Seattle Times, is an “anti-racist, anti-fascist organization, standing in opposition to organized white supremacists and attacks on people from vulnerable communities”]

What We Had to Say

According to NPR, between May and June 19, 2018, a estimated total 2,342 immigrant children have been separated from their parents. These children are scattered across 17 states. And their parents have been scattered elsewhere.  One of these separated families is known to be detained at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac where we demonstrated. According to the New York Times, Jelsin Padilla is being held in New York City. His mom, Yolany Padilla, is being detained at the Federal Detention Center in Washington State.  She hasn’t seen her son in over a month.

Ms. Padilla is one of over 200 immigrants —174 are women — detained as of June 19 in Washington state.  We came by the thousands to say “no more; this incarceration and separation of families must end and end now!

Here’s the postcard letter I wrote to Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) calling upon him to use his powers in the Senate to end these torturous incarcerations and separations of families:

Text of letter to Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)

Letter to Senator Bob Casey calling for the permanent ending of the detention of children and their family members. This postcard letter was written onsite at the Federal Detention Center and will be hand-delivered to Senator Casey’s office by an organization called #FreedomForFamilies.

Many, many others wrote similar messages:

And so that you can see what else was said, the following pictures and social ,media postings will give you a flavor of our outrage.

My Social Media Postings Calling on the US Government to End this “Zero Tolerance” Policy

Instagram Posts

Pictures of the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac with a sign saying, "In the name of humanity, Stop Terrorizing Immigrant Children. RefuseFascism.org"

tostivasey Stop Terrorizing Immigrant Children. #keepfamiliestogether #enddetentionnow #bringfamiliestogether #endfacism

Picture of a girl sitting in a stroller with her mother and sister holding signs that say, "Families belong together."

tostivasey This little girl and her mother and sister say it all, “Keep Family Together.” Separating immigrant kids from their parents and other family members is a criminal act. #enddetentionnow #keepfamiliestogether❤

picture of a heart-shaped sign decoration with babies' and toddlers' shoes

tostivasey #WhereAreTheBabies?! The shoes of the babies need to be put on their feet by their mothers and fathers and their sisters and brothers. Babies are innocent kids and should NEVER be used as pawns. #enddetentionnow #bringfamiliestogether

Picture collage of the Federal Detention Center, a list of numbers to call Congress (202-224-3121), HHS (202-690-7000), DOJ (202-353-1555), DHS (202-282-8995), and the White House (202-456-1111), and two signs saying, "Separating children from families really is nothing less than government-sanctioned child abuse!" and "Where are the children?"

tostivasey Separating Children from their families is nothing less than #ChildAbuse and #torture. Call your representatives, Senators, @jeffsessions212, #DHS, & @realdonaldtrump. Ask them #wherearethebabies And Tell them to #enddetentionnow #bringfamiliestogether.

Tweets

Joanne Tosti-Vasey added,

@tostivasey “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” No more separation and detention. !

Large sign with an impression of the New Colossus (aka the Statue of Liberty) with the following words that are engraved at the base of the statue: "Remember?! 'Give my your tired, your poor, you huddled masses yearning to be free. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed t me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.' Emma Lazaras 'New Colossus' What is happening to our country??!"

Quote from New Colossus (aka the Statue of Liberty) with the words that are engraved at the base of the statue. My previous blog on Lady Liberty is about immigration as well.

Signage Expressing Our Outrage at this Maltreatment of Our Fellow Human Beings

Messages without Words

Why We March

Why Now?

What Should Be Done to End this Outrage

 

NOW IT’S Your turn! If you are in the Seattle Area, here’s some additional actions you can take this week:

Families Belong Together Activities in Seattle on ending Zero Tolerance Policy

If you’re elsewhere in the country, do as the sign says above and call

  • The White House (202-456-1111);
  • The Executive Branch departments that are causing this crisis
    • Health and Human Services (202-690-7000);
    • Department of Justice (202-353-1555);
    • Department of Homeland Security (202-282-8995); and
  • Your federal legislators (202-224-3121)

Tell them

  1. Families Belong Together
  2. Stop Separating Familes
  3. End Family Detention
  4. Stop Torturing Children
  5. End this fascist behavior. We are better than this (or should be).
  6. Get rid of the “Zero Tolerance” Policy

 

#DNCinPHL:Day 5 2nd attempt


Something just happened to my draft blog. I just lost everything from 10 am until 6:30 pm. I’ll post the pictures I took later, but all of the text is gone!

This morning,  my credentials were once again unavailable.  Mitch Kates, PA’s Political Director of the Pa Democratic Party, once again scrambled and found a delegate pass for me by 12:30 today;  I picked it up and headed to the Wells Fargo Center at 2 pm.

On the Convention Floor

So first, I just got a selfie with Madeline Albright!

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Madeline Albright and me!

These are not all of the speakers,  just highlights of the ones that started speaking after 6:30 pm. To make sure I don’t lose this again, I’m  publishing this as I add new content. So please keep coming back.  Thanks.

The Women of the US Senate 

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Madeline Albright and me!

  • Barbara Mikulski – MD.  I was the first. I wanted to have more to have our voices heard. One of them was Hillary Clinton.
  • Patty Murray – WA. Hillary and the Senate women are calling upon the FDA to make decisions based on science,  not politics.
  • Debbie  Stabenow -MI. I was with her in Bejing when she said,  “Women’s Rights ate Human Rights  and Human Rights  are Women’s Rights.”
  • Maria Cantwell – WA. Hillary is for paid sick leave
  • Amy Klobuchar — MN. It was too noisy to hear what she said.
  • Claire McCaskill –MO. She was with me when I was getting cancer treatment
  • Jeanne Shaheen — NH. It was again too noisy to hear what she said.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand  -NY. Hillary believes that if you don’t stand up and fight,  who else will? She’s  continuing to stand and fight.
  • Tammy Baldwin – MO. I am a strong advocate for healthcare and healthy families.  So is Hillary.
  • Mazie K. Hirino – HI.  I’m an immigrant.  She understands our families and us
  • Elizabeth  Warren – MA. Hillary knows how to fight back against dangerous bullies. Śhe fights back
  • Barbara Boxer -CA. We worked together on the environment. And when Ground Zero occurred,  she made sure they (first responders) got the care they needed. And when Super Storm Sandy hit,  she reached out to the people who were affected.  We as the women of the Senate, therefore, we stand with Hillary. 

Andrew Cuomo

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He is the Governor of New York. He eloquently talked about coming together as one. “E Pluribus Unum.” United, we are one.

Nancy Pelosi

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We must be smart and strong.

  • For the sake of the 90+ people killed each day, we must break the NRA gridlock.
  • We need to have Economic  Justice – equal pay for equal work and paid sick leave.
  • The future of America needs to be decided by the voters, not by the monied. Overturn Citizens United.
  • Everyone should pay their fair share.

Onward to victory!

Due to a low battery, I’m temporarily signing off until Chelsea and Hillary come on and will attempt to recharge.  Back in a bit.

I’m  back.

Chelsea Clinton

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Chelsie Clinton!

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Chelsea Clinton, All Grown Up!

Our daughter Charlotte is two years old, and she just loves face-time with Grandma. Our son Aden is 5.5 weeks old.

Whenever Mom was away for a while [when I was a kid],  she left dated messages for me. I treasured then.  At dinner, they’d listen to me first. They cared about my thoughts.  That feeling of being valued is the calling of my mother’s life for everyone.

Another thing she taught me is that public service is about service.

I saw her fight for universal health care. We all know she failed. But she still felt she could make a difference and got back to work.  Because she never forgets for whom she’s working.

  • For first responders
  • For women around the world to be safe.
  • For all in need.

She has a heart full of love.  She’s spent her entire life for us.

She knows that

  • Women’s Rights are Human Rights
  • LGBT  Rights are Human Rights

So everyone watching, she’ll  make us all proud as the next president of the US.

And here she is!

Hillary Rodham Clinton 

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Madeline Albright and me!

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Hillary Clinton

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Hillary Clinton

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Hillary Clinton

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Madeline Albright and me!

Thank you, Chelsea, for becoming the woman you’ve become.

On Tuesday night I was glad to see my Explainer-in-Chief was still explaining.  We have heard both from the man from Hope – Bill and from the man of Hope – Barack Obama.

I want to thank Bernie Sanders.  Bernie inspired millions of Americans, particularly millennials. Thank you for your focus on economic justice. We wrote the progressive platform together; let’s make it work together.

Our founders embraced the truth that we are stronger together.

Just as with the founders,  it is up to us.  We need to work together to grow together.

Donald [Trump] has taken the Republican party from Morning in America to Midnight in America. FDR said it best.  “We have nothing to fear but fear itself. ”

[As Democrats,]

  • We will not ban any religion.
  • We have the most tolerant and generous young people in the work
  • Freedom, Justice, and Opportunity.  We should be most proud of these words and ideas.

Don’t believe anyone who says “I alone can fix ít.” Those words are dangerous.  Hasn’t he [Donald Trump] forgotten our troops, our first responders, our teachers, our police, our entrepreneurs…?

Twenty years ago I  wrote “It Takes a Village.” Working together is what I  mean by a village.

My father worked in  Scranton for 40 years. My mother told me to do whatever you can do for however long you can. She taught me that you have to change both hearts and laws.  Like, every child with a disability has a right to go to school. We changed our laws to make this happen.

I focus on policy to make these things happen.

Over the last four days, you’ve met some of the people who inspired me. The child who wore a brace. The first responders who got sick after 9/11. I will continue carrying your stories to the White House.

I will be the President for all – Democrats, Republicans, Independents.

A barrier has fallen today with the first woman elected as the presidential nominee.

  • I believe that the economy thrives when the middle class thrives.
  • We will pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United
  • I believe that Wall Street should never be able to overturn Main Street
  • I believe there is climate change.

If you share these beliefs, this is your campaign. Join us.

If the minimum wage should be a living wage, Join us.

If you believe in affordable healthcare, Join us.

If you want to expand Social Security,  have equal pay, and protect a women’s right to reproductive healthcare, JOIN US.

Whether it’s a trade job or a college education, we should make this happen.

If doing paid family leave or getting quality child care is dealing the “women’s card,” then deal me in!

Keeping our country safe is important.  So I  support the control of Iran’s nuclear weapons program without a single shot. I support Israel’s right to exist.

Our president should respect the service of all of our members of the armed forces, including Tim Kaine’s and Mike Pence’s sons – both Marines. That’s not true of Trump.

I’m not here to take away your guns.  I just want to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.  We need common-sense gun laws.

We also need common-sense treatment of people of all races. Let’s give our support to our police to make them safe as well.

We will protect all rights. Civil Rights. Women’s Rights.  Immigrant Rights. Disability Rights. LGBTQ Rights. Veteran’s Rights…

None of us can do it alone. Progress is possible.  I’ve seen it when people who have fallen who get back up. I’ve even done it myself.

We need to stand up to bullies. We’re drawn together when we work together.

Thank you.

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Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine

And finally to end the convention, we had the traditional balloon drop. Balloons large and small.

Hope you enjoyed this week as much as I did!

Picture of Joanne Tosti-Vasey watching the balloons drop from the ceiling of the Wells Fargo Center

Yours Truly watching the balloons drop from the ceiling of the Wells Fargo Center.

#DNCinPHL – Day 1

In June I was appointed as a pledged Bernie Sanders Pennsylvania Public Leader/Elected Official Delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.  The convention is being held in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (for the Caucuses) and at the Wells Fargo Arena for the main events.

The convention officially starts on Monday July 25.  For delegates and their guests, travel to Philadelphia and welcoming parties started on Sunday.

I will be taking pictures and notes of what I see and hear at my very first convention and will share them with you.  So here’s my first day.

picture of Joanne wearing a Bernie Sanders t-shirt holding a Single-Payer healthcare baseball cap bedecked with political pins

I left home this morning for Philadelphia. But before I left I had Joe take this picture of me in our back yard in my Bernie regalia next to our very own “Liberty Bell.”

Instead of driving to Philadelphia and spending $47/day for parking, I took the Amtrak train from Lewistown, PA.

Varity Show at Kimmel Center for #DNAmtrak's Pennsylvanian #42 pulling into the train station at LewistownCinPHL Welcome Par

Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian #42 pulling into the train station at Lewistown.

picture of the Amtrak engine pulling the passenger cars at the Lewistown train station.

My couch awaits me!

On Board Amtrak

The train was full.  Many of the people on board were delegates, media personnel, and people generally interested in attending the events surrounding the convention.  I met people from Wisconsin, New York, and of course Pennsylvania on board Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian #42, the once-daily eastbound train from Pittsburgh to New York City by way of Philadelphia.

Picture of Ruth Pastore, Jean Mllko, Angie Gialloreto, and Norma McCuen holding up two t-shirts that say "Clintonettes H for Hillary" on the front and "Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Allegheny County 2016" on the back.

The “Clintonettes” from Pittsburgh. These are people I know from the Pennsylvania Democratic State Party meetings I attend three times a year. Left to Right: Ruth Pastore, Jean Mllko, Angie Gialloreto, and Norma McCuen.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital, was our first stop where we changed engines.

picture of downtown Harrisburand showing the employee parking lot and Chestnut Street

A brief glimpse of Harrisburg looking down Chestnut Street from the train station.

picture of staircase and the coach cars of my Amtrak train in Harrisburg, PA

The coach cars of the Pennsylvanian at the Harrisburg Amtrak station.

Picture of the staircases and

We sat at the Harrisburg Amtrak train for 30 minutes while the diesel engine was switched to an electric engine for the rest of the trip.

Then we were off again for the last leg of the train trip.

Picture of Chris Dietz and Alexander Reber

Chris Dietz and Alex Reber joined us in Harrisburg. Chris is Millersburg Borough Council President. I first met them when Chris ran for the state legislature several years ago.

Philadelphia – We’re Here!

The train arrived at the 30th Street Station and we took a shuttle over to the Doubletree Inn in downtown Philadelphia.  What should have been a 10-minute ride turned into an hour’s excursion of narrow roads and circling blocks in an attempt to get to the hotel.  Part of the reason for the long drive was a parade down Broad Street near City Hall in support of Bernie Sanders.

Picture of a larger than life-size Bernie sanders blow-up puppet marching down Broad Street with 100's of his supporters.

“Bernie Sanders” joins the parade in his honor. Feel the Bern. Photo courtesy of Linda Tosti-Lane; she took this picture from our corner room at the DoubleTree Inn.

We have a great view from our 19th floor room as you can see above.  We are also set for staying here for 5 days. 12 sets of towels came with the room!

Picture of our pile of towels.

We’re ready for anything this week! LOL!

After settling in we went to our first party.  It was a welcoming party to the DNC convention for several states including Pennsylvania, California, Colorado and several others. It was held at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Food and a wonderful variety show wrapped up the day for us.

picture of City Hall as seen from the balcony of the Kimmel Center

City Hall as seen from the balcony of the Kimmel Center

picture of One of the live-action flower women at the Kimmel Center standing in a large flower urn waving her arms.

One of the live-action flower women at the Kimmel Center

Picture of the stage at Verizon Symphony Hall at the Kimmel Center with yellow spotlights on the variety show stage.

#DNCinPHL Welcome Party Variety Show at the William Way hosted by Cheryl Lee Ralph. Her husband is PA State Senator Vincent Hughes.