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Local Protesters Call For An End To Family Separations At The Border

Protesters across the country and here on the Central Coast want the Trump Administration to stop separating families at the border.  

About a dozen protesters gathered at a busy intersection in Salinas Thursday evening. They decorated signs on the sidewalk near a street vendor selling brightly-colored flowers.

“The one that I made is, ‘The World is Watching’,” said local activist Kim Snyder.

As cars drove by, the protesters held the signs in the air. Another sign read, ‘My County is Better Than This’.

Young mom Elyssa Gonzales saw the group while driving home from work. She pulled over and joined in with her one and a half-year-old baby girl.

“I see this unjust [injustice] that's happening to families and immigrant families and, you know, me having my own daughter, it’s just awful. So we need to voice our voices. We need to yell it and we need to support the people who don't have voices,” Gonzales said.

Thousands of protesters across the nation voiced similar outrage Thursday about the Trump Administration’s practice of separating families at the border. This protest here in Salinas was one of four in the Monterey Bay Area and one of 60 nationwide. That’s according to the grassroots organization Families Belong Together, which organized the rallies.

Salinas protest organizer Ricardo Nunez, says while the turnout here was small, they have a big message.

“We want to send that [message] all the way to Washington D.C. Separating a child from their parents shouldn't be happening,” Nunez said.

In Monterey, a group of 50 people chanted along busy Del Monte Avenue. Monterey protest organizer Deb Collins said people driving by showed support.  

“What was very impressive to me was the crowd response from the cars going by, so many cars honking. And if they weren't honking, they were giving thumbs up, rolling down their windows, and yelling good things. And there was a minority that, you know, that were not favorably disposed. But, by and large, I feel like this has really tapped a nerve in the country,” Collins said.

Collins says she won’t stop fighting until the family separations end.

“The more people that turn out for things like this and the more people who put pressure on their congressional representatives and write letters to editors, I know it sounds like probably an old time thing to do, but keep it in the public eye. We have to stop this,” said Collins.

The Trump Administration says they’ve been sending children to government sponsored centers because kids can’t go to federal jail.

Protester Nigel Tunnacliffe, who came to the Monterey event with his wife and young son, says this is a moral issue, not a legal one.

“The thought of having our son torn away from us is pretty tragic. And so I think about the hundreds of people that are suffering too. It just seems horribly unfair after fleeing from whatever they're fleeing from to get that kind of treatment in this country,” Tunnacliffe said.

These protests fell on the same day that House Speaker Paul Ryan called upon Congress to pass legislation to end these family separations.