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

 

picture of PSU's Old Main Building surrounded by students, faculty, staff, and community members at the "#NotMyPresident Walk-Out/Love Trumps Hate" Rally

Love Trumps Hate Rally

picture of PSU's Old Main Building surrounded by students, faculty, staff, and community members at the

Outdoor portion of the PSU “#NotMyPresident Walk-Out/Love Trumps Hate” Rally

Penn State University held a “#NotMyPresident Walk-Out” Protest on Tuesday, November 15. It was one of many held at universities across the country. Students who believe in human rights and who oppose the election of Donald Trump got up, walked out of class, and headed to a designated meeting space on each campus to “show their resistance” to this election.

Students at PSU left their classrooms at the University Park Campus and headed to Old Main’s front lawn where protests have historically been held since the civil rights protests of the late 1960’s.

It quickly turned into what I believe would be better called a “Love Trumps Hate”  Rally.  The speakers acknowledged that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. We, as citizens must, therefore stand up and speak out for all people and the environment.

Caring for all of our brethren including LGBTQIA people, people of color, Muslims, documented and undocumented immigrants, and women is an absolute necessity. Like in the 1960’s, the civil rights movement must rise again.

The rally occurred at two different venues.  The first one happened in front of the Old Main Building.  Somewhere between 800 and 1000 people appeared to be attending this part of the rally. Since the university did not allow any voice amplification, most people, including myself, were unable to hear what was said.

So the best I could do was take pictures of the signs that were carried by the participants.  Here is some of what was expressed.

The “#NotMyPresident” Type Signs

sign saying Donald Trump is NOT My President with Sponge Bob saying,

Grr! Donald Trump is NOT My President

banner asking whether Trump is/will be the President or a Predator/

Prez or Predator???????????

picture of a boot underneath the words

Anger sign declaring those opposing Trump will “Make Racists Afraid Again.” This was the only non-peaceful statement I saw at the rally.

cardboard sign saying

Put a “Fence Around Pence.”

The Public Discourse and “Love Trumps Hate” Type Signs

black sign with a flag at the top. Underneath the flag are the words,

Democracy is Dissent. A statement declaring that we have a 1st Amendment constitutional right “of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress.”

picture of two signs. Once says

Get White Supremacy Out of the White House (a call for Trump to reverse his decision to make White Supremacist Steve Bannon his Senior Counselor) and a call for “Civic Engagement.”

Large fiberboard sign saying

Nasty Women Keep Fighting

The March

After the speeches were done, about half of the participants marched over to the Hetzel Union Building to hold a second rally calling people to stand up, support our brethren, and to fight back just as those that fought segregation did in the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s during the Civil Rights Movement.

picture of people leaving Old Main and heading towards the HUB

Leaving Old Main

picture of people moving from the outdoor rally into the HUB for the second part of the program.

Entering the Hetzel Union Building (aka the HUB)

Inside the HUB

Once inside, people gathered on the steps near the HUB-Paul Robeson Center that  was created to “provide cultural, educational and social support for Black students. It was also expected to provide a place for ‘building bridges to understanding.'”  Using the Center as a backdrop, the rally focused on standing up, fighting back, making sure our voices are heard, and spreading the message of civil rights for all.

I was able to hear much of what was said and sung in this venue.  Here are some of the additional messages I saw and some of the words I heard.

picture of signs and people standing on the steps leading up to the Paul Robeson Cultural Center at the HUB on PSU's University Park Campus.

Rally on the steps of the HUB-Paul Robeson Cultural Center.

Picture of what looks like two federal officers holding a Confederate flag and two other officers carrying a flag that says

A Wall is NOT an invitation to dialogue.

Hand-drawn sign that says,

We are fighting for what’s right.

Hand-drawn sign that says,

We are Stronger Together

A friend and colleague, Peter Buckland, also attended the rally.  Here’s his view and commentary from inside the HUB. If I can get a YouTube link, I’ll embed it here.

And this is how the rally ended:

Let the Sunshine In

What I did not get a picture of was everyone coming together at the end of the rally to hug one another, saying that “I’ll be here for you.” Black. White. Latino. Muslim. Gay. Straight. Women. Cis. Men. As the Three Musketeers said, “All for One and One for All.” Love does Trump Hate.

Home-Stretch Election Rallies

vote button

Go Vote Button

It’s the home stretch. Candidates and volunteers are working overtime to get people out to vote on Tuesday, November 4. As part of that effort, prominent politicians are canvassing the country to assist candidates running for the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, and state Governorships.

Pennsylvania

In my home state of Pennsylvania, President Barack Obama came to Philadelphia to stump for Tom Wolf (D) on Sunday November 2. He is running for Pennsylvania Governor to replace the current Tea Party Governor Tom Corbett (R). I’m so looking forward to a victory tomorrow for Tom Wolf (see some of the reasons why here). It will be a win for the environment, for women, LGBTQIA people, low-income individuals who can’t access healthcare, and for better jobs and wages for everyone in the state.

New Hampshire

In New Hampshire the fight is not to replace a right-wing slate of elected officials, but to retain and reelect the four progressive women leading that state – Governor Maggie Hassan, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Representative Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2), and Representative Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1). New Hampshire is the only state in the nation to have women in 100% of the top leadership positions in the state. And prominent female politicians have come to the state to stump for them. On October 25, it was Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stumping for her colleague Senator Jeanne Shaheen. And on Sunday, November 2, while President Obama was stumping for Tom Wolf, Former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton came to Nashua, NH to support these four women’s reelection efforts.

I was there at both events. I blogged about the Warren event last week. Today, here’s the Clinton event.

picture of NH Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen with Hillary Rodham Clinton standing on stage at a GOTV rally in Nashua, NH on Nov. 2, 2014

NH Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen with Hillary Rodham Clinton

About 1000 people gathered at Nashua Community College in Nashua, NH. The lineup of speakers was quite interesting. Except for State Democratic Chair Ray Buckley, every speaker was a woman – something I’ve never seen in a political event or rally before. Here are the speakers in order of their appearance:

Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s granddaughters singing the Star Spangled Banner

Picture of Caraline and Elle Shaheen singing The Star Spangled Banner

Caraline and Elle Shaheen singing The Star Spangled Banner

Chair Ray Buckley calling on the NH electorate to not only vote for the Democrats at the top of the ticket, but to also vote for the Democrats all the way down the ballot.

picture of NH Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley

NH Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley

He gave a rousing speech on the problems that NH had when Republican Bill O’Brian was leading the General Assembly and how the mostly female Democratic leadership turned the state around through bipartisan cooperation once the Republican party became the minority party two years ago. Here’s that speech:

 

Then the line-up of female political leaders began. Each talked about why NH is doing better now, how their bipartisan efforts have improved the economy of New Hampshire, and what has been protected in the state for women’s reproductive justice and pay equity, children’s and adults’ public and college education, marriage equality, access to health care for all and job restoration. Here are those speakers:

House Speaker Terri Norelli

NH House Speaker Terri Norelli

NH House Speaker Terri Norelli

State Senator Peggy Gilmour

Picture of  State Sen Peggy Gilmour

NH State Sen Peggy Gilmour

State Senator Peggy Laskey

Picture of NH State Senator Bette Laskey

NH State Senator Bette Laskey

Executive Council Member Debora Pignatelli

Picture of NH Executive Council Member Debora Pignatelli

NH Executive Council Member Debora Pignatelli

And then the headliners:

US Representative Ann McLane Kuster

Picture of US Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2)

US Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2)

Governor Maggie Hassan

Picture of NH Governor Maggie Hassan

NH Governor Maggie Hassan

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Picture of US Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH)

US Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH)

And finally, Hillary Rodham Clinton!

Picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton

In introducing Hillary, Senator Shaheen put forth this zinger that brought a roar from the crowd:

“She traveled 956,000 miles as Secretary of State – that’s nearly as many miles as Scott Brown traveled looking for a Senate seat to buy.”

Due to the low battery on my video camera, I was not able to record the speeches of the keynote speakers. After the video camera died, Hillary focused on women’s and family issues. Since I could no longer videotape the event, I took a few notes. Here’s some of Ms. Clinton’s additional remarks:

“Women are not just half the population.”

“Women’s rights are on the front line of rights around the world.”

“Equal pay is not just a women’s issue. It is a family issue.”

“Fear is the last resort of those who have run out of hope.”

“If you vote, you can elect these women who will lead New Hampshire and the rest of the country [for the better good of all].”

In addition, the Manchester Ink Link compiled several quotes from Hassan, Shaheen, and Clinton. You can see them here.

You Gotta Vote!

So no matter where you are – in Pennsylvania, in New Hampshire, or anywhere else in the country – consider the impact of who your next Governor or US Senator or US Congressperson may be. Do not vote based on fear. Vote for the candidates who will protect middle-class income, education for all, access to healthcare, marriage equality, the environment, and reproductive justice.

GET OUT AND VOTE on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. You can find out where and how to vote in your state here (courtesy of the League of Women Voters). Thanks.

 

Collage of pictures taken during the Hassan/Shaheen/Clinton rally in Nashua, NH on Nov. 2, 2014

Collage of pictures taken during the Hassan/Shaheen/Clinton rally in Nashua, NH on Nov. 2, 2014