A protestor in Alpine (Diana Nguyen / Marfa Public Radio)
By Diana Nguyen
At rallies across Texas and the U.S., people are marching to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
In Alpine, a crowd of roughly 150 protestors — mostly dressed in white — gathered at the Brewster County Courthouse to denounce family separations along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Speakers at the event included Michael Wallens, Amanda Chisholm, Dr. Bibiana Gutierrez, Pete Gallego, and Jaime Escuder. Their speeches focused on the moral obligations of the United States, the legal rights of migrants, and the psychological effects separation has on children.
“The terror many were fleeing in their country of origin has been replaced by a new terror created by a government,” said Michael Wallens.
In April, the Trump administration announced their “zero tolerance” policy, which called for all cases of illegal entry into the U.S. to be criminally prosecuted.
“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you,” said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.”
President Trump has since signed an executive order that ended the controversial policy of separating parents and their children. But more than 2,000 children remain separated from their families.
Last week, a federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to reunite all separated children to their parents within thirty days.
Amanda Chisholm, an attorney with the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid office in Alpine, represents three Central American migrants who are suing several government agencies for the now reversed policy of separating families at the border.
Chisolm says that she’s overjoyed by the order to the Trump administration, but expressed some concern. “I am worried about the practicality of complying with the order, and if there’s going to be any trouble locating in the parents or the children. I know some parents have been deported already without their children. So I foresee that there would be some issues with that,” she says.
When speaking to the crowd, Chisholm reminded the protestors that migration from southern countries is nothing new. “Parents and children have been coming and seeking asylum for a long time… They were kept together,” she explained. “All of this is to say that we have before and we can now enforce our immigration laws without torturing families.”
Under the current rules outlined in the Flores settlement, children cannot be held in federal detention for more than 20 days. However, the Trump administration announced it will now hold families together for longer than 20 days, The Department of Justice has requested that a federal district court modify this provision.