Several local immigrant rights organizations plan to rally this Saturday at Legislative Hall in Dover, in solidarity with family separation protests across the country.
“The message will definitely be, don’t separate families. Reform immigration policy so that it is fair and humane, and that people can come here to work,” said Kathleen MacRae, director of the ACLU of Delaware, one of the organizations that has taken the lead planning Saturday’s event.
MacRae says the rally will also celebrate this week’s court order by a federal judge in California requiring federal officials to stop detaining parents apart from children, and specifying time limits for reunification based on the age of the child.
Erika Gutierrez of Network Delaware, another group behind the planned rally, will speak at Saturday’s action. Gutierrez immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico nearly two decades ago.
She says the issue of migrant family separations has awakened more activism surrounding immigration policy, noting a similar local rally earlier this month turned out 200 people.
“It was just impressive to realize the power of awareness. Before people didn’t understand a lot about what it meant for immigrants to have policies like that . But now that people are really feeling what it is to be ripped apart,” she said. “And they feel it with their heart, they see the pictures of those kids and they imagine themselves in that situation.”
Gutierrez says the main goal of Saturday’s rally is raising awareness about immigration issues and local immigration reform efforts.
Those include the Safe Communities Coalition’s campaign to get Delaware municipalities to adopt policies banning local police departments from searching people solely on suspicion of immigration status or cooperating with ICE without a warrant.
Matt Meyer signed an executive order last spring designating New Castle County as one of these “safe communities,” which Gutierrez says are similar to a “sanctuary cities.” The alternate name aims to avoid the controversy associated with the more well-known title.
Gutierrez says the Safe Communities Coalition ultimately aims to secure an executive order from Governor John Carney designating the entire state as a “safe community.”
Saturday’s rally starts at 10am.
Speakers will include Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, State Representative Sean Lynn, Rev. Patty Downing, Pastor John Moore, Kristin Bricker of Food Not Bombs Wilmington, and Cecilia Teresa, who is a ‘dreamer.’
Groups organizing the rally include the ACLU of Delaware, Network Delaware, Food Not Bombs Wilmington, Delaware Voices United, Delaware Civil Rights Coalition, Equality Delaware, Delaware Women for Inclusion, Delaware Alliance for Community Advancement, Indivisible Highlands and Beyond, and the Latin American Community Center, says Gutierrez.