Rally to keep families together

On June 30th, I attended a rally to show support for keeping families together. It was at the Government Center in Key Largo and was co-sponsored by the Upper Keys Action Network, the Upper Keys Democrats and Keys to Peace.

It was hot, humid and sunny but meaningful to those who attended.  Some brought signs, and some made signs from materials we had available. Because many people come to the Keys to retire, many of the participants were in their 60’s and 70’s. We had grandmothers who brought their grandchildren and parents who brought their children. I think that perhaps we had a few children who brought their parents.

Linda Rally 1It was very much a celebration of our right to make our voices heard and let it be known that separating children from their families and putting them in cages (or elsewhere away from their families) is not, not, not acceptable. Most of those who attended volunteered to help get out the vote in the primary on August 28th and the mid-term on November 6th.

A white supremacist from Missouri who was evidently vacationing here got out of his car and tried very hard to provoke a confrontation. He was heckling the participants, including even children in his hateful speech. I am sure that several of our participants were tempted to punch him in the face, but no-one did, and he was convinced to leave. Let’s hope that he never decides to retire in the Keys.

The day was heartwarming in many ways. People drove by, honked and gave us the thumbs up sign. While I was sitting at the registration table, two women walked up. One of them said that she was a newly naturalized citizen originally from Colombia and that when she saw us she told her friend “Look at that. They are there to support us, so we have to join them.” They volunteered to help get out the vote because they felt so welcomed by our efforts. Across the street (U.S. 1) is our local fruit and vegetable market. The woman who runs the market brought a big tray of cold watermelon and pineapple slices. She told us that they really appreciated us standing in the hot sun to support immigrant families and proudly showed us her new voter registration card. She is looking forward to voting for the first time in the primary in August.

A friend of mine who participated said it was hot and he was totally exhausted but that he had never felt so good about what he was doing as he did in participating in the rally.

Since the rally, a court has ordered to the government to reunite all children under 5 with their parents within two weeks and older children to be reunited within 4 weeks. As I write this, the two-week deadline is a few days away and the government has admitted that they really aren’t able to do this. They are asking for DNA tests to ensure they give the children to the “real parents” which means to me that they did not have procedures in place to adequately account for the children Linda Rally 2and their parents. As of today, they said that 101 of the more than 3000 separated children were under 5 and that they could not locate the parents of 38 of these 101 children. It makes me wonder how many of the parents of the 3000+ children over 5 can’t be located by our government. If the parents of 38 % of the children under 5 can’t be located, we could easily be looking at over 1100 other children whose parents can’t be matched to their children. This is a hateful policy made so much worse by incompetence.  

You can and should contact your Representatives and Senators to express outrage over how our government has treated families seeking refuge. But our best hope in making things better is to make our voices heard in the voting booth.  Please remember to vote in the primary on August 28th and the mid-terms on November 6th.  

Linda M Kaplan