Comments for Families Belong Together Rally

June 30, 2018
Remarks by Anne Bridgman

I speak to you today as a member of the Refugee Resettlement Coalition of Lane County. RRCLC welcomes and supports refugees fleeing war and violence. We also assist asylum seekers. We are a coalition of faith-based groups, service organizations, and concerned individuals from the Eugene-Springfield community coordinating with Catholic Community Services. Since 2016, we have helped settle seven refugees in Lane County. That may not seem like a big number, but in today’s climate, it is.

Thank you for coming out today to support the innocent children who are being taken from their parents at the U.S. border. We are one of 700 rallies gathering today to protest the forced separation of children—including infants—from their parents.

We must keep protesting this heinous policy until immigrants and asylum seekers are no longer criminalized.

We also reject the policy that transports the parents of these children to jails and federal prisons, including one in Sheridan, Oregon. These detainees may have legitimate claims to asylum. They should not be held in federal prisons.

We must keep protesting until detainees are given full access to legal representation, medical care, and visits by clergy.

Trump recently signed an executive order that purported to reverse his policy. But it’s not at all clear that this is really happening.

We must keep protesting until families are no longer sent to prison camps.

Last week, a federal judge ordered that parents and children be reunited. But more than 2,300 children are still in detention centers, separated from their parents. And there are no plans for reuniting these families.

We must keep protesting until every child is reunited with his or her parent.

Families who seek entry to the United States as refugees and asylees are fleeing terror and trauma in their home communities. Their children need help to buffer this stress. The worst thing that can happen to them is to take away their primary protector, their parent.

And the longer the separation lasts, the greater likelihood the child will develop depression, anxiety, or other PTSD disorders. These can last a lifetime.

Will you join me today in committing to keep protesting until the United States of America stops separating children from their parents in their greatest time of need?

Will you join me today in committing to a renewed spirit of welcoming all immigrants, who make America a better place?

Will you join me today in committing to resisting policies that dehumanize parents and children who are seeking our protection?

And will you join me today in committing to returning America to a land of hope and opportunity?

Thank you.

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