HUDSON — Protesters gathered in Hudson on Thursday and in Kinderhook on Friday to speak out against the separation of families illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to the United States.
Carrying handmade signs, more than 30 protesters gathered in 7th Street Park in the city and a dozen outside U.S. Rep. John Faso’s office at 2 Hudson St. in Kinderhook.
Dozens of parents are being separated from their children each day when families cross the border, protesters contend.
While parents are in police custody and wait to go before an immigration judge, their children are labeled “unaccompanied minors” and placed in government custody.
“I’m here because I can’t just imagine that here we are in 2018 and somebody has to show up and say to the government, Don’t take children from their parents,” said protester Jeff Lick, of Old Chatham, outside Faso’s office on Friday.
The Trump administration has no official policy on separating children from their parents, but protesters say the government has to act to make sure it doesn’t happen.
“What brought me out here is the outrageous immigration policy that the country is now enforcing and it is not based on any law, and it is cruel and inhumane, and how we treat the most vulnerable in our society is an indication of what our country is,” said Brenda Gevertz, of Ghent.
President Donald Trump blamed Democrats for the separation of families in a tweet Friday.
“The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda,” Trump tweeted. “Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!”
Some of the families cross the board to escape gang violence, rape and other atrocities, and are seeking asylum, which is legal, Gevertz said.
“We’re better than this,” Gevertz said. “Who knows if the families will ever be reunited?”
Gevertz and others called on Faso to take a stand by drafting and supporting legislation against the separation of immigrant families crossing the border.
“His silence speaks to what his position is,” said Sharifa Perry, of Old Chatham, in Kinderhook. “He needs to speak out about it today.”
“Congressman Faso believes this is a humanitarian issue and does not want children separated from their parents at the border,” Faso spokesman Joe Geruit said in a statement Friday. “He is reviewing recently released immigration legislation negotiated in the House of Representatives that would address this issue.”
Wendy Dwyer, of Canaan, takes part in weekly protests outside Faso’s office on what the group has wryly named “Faso Fridays.”
“It’s not America,” Dwyer said. “It is not what our country was made of. It’s staggeringly unbelievable. It could be any of us. We’re only here by fortune. Anyone could be born anywhere and into any situation. This country has so much space.”
The protest Thursday was held in conjunction with the national Keep Families Together movement, holding events, marches, rallies, and blocking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement buildings all day Thursday.
The Washington Post contributed to this report.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to email@example.com, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.