Thousands rallied outside the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac Saturday, one of many similar protests held around the country sounding the call against the President Donald Trump administration’s separation and detention of migrant families at the southern border.
The driveway of the detention center overflowed with people. Protesters gathered in barely landscaped spaces, navigating bushes and rusted pieces of fencing in an attempt to hear the many speakers who led chants of “Sí se puede” and “Families belong together.” Several women wore olive green jackets with the words “I really do care, do you?” written on the back in response to the First Lady’s cheapest fashion choice in June. Another woman wore an outfit straight out of Gilead.
It was the first time in more than a decade that Ken Miller had attended a protest. The last was against the Iraq war. His two young children were with him. He had a sign that read, “This is not normal, this is not okay.”
Like a majority of voters, Miller didn’t cast a ballot for Trump in 2016. He was disappointed when the self-described businessman and dealmaker won. It felt important for him to go out on Saturday, he said.
“I don’t think anybody thought it would get to this point,” Miller said.
The policy of separating children from their parents was announced in April when Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the country about the “zero tolerance” policy regarding migrants at the border.
“If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law,” Sessions said, as reported in The Washington Post in May. “If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”
It wasn’t until reports of children suffering, and particularly the audio of crying children first released by ProPublica, that public outrage began. The reaction was intense and immediate and the first family did little to help their cause. Ivanka Trump put out a photo of herself and one of her children on social media, to the derision of many.
Melania Trump visited one of the detention centers in a jacket that read, “I don’t really care, do u?” in what media watchers eventually concluded might be a stunt.
Public officials and candidates rallied around the cause. Mayor Jenny Durkan joined a contingent of electeds at the border.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed his 27th lawsuit against the Trump administration. Beto O’Rourke, the progressive looking to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz, led a march to Brownsville, joined by Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).
Trump tried to alleviate the criticism by signing an executive order to keep families together, a strange move after more than a week of public statements blaming the out-of-power Democrats and claiming that he could not fix the problem. Critics quickly decried the order as well, saying that it was ineffective and more hat than cattle.
It purported to stop the separation of families but set up a situation in which children would be detained with their parents for potentially more than the 20-day limit set by the judicial system. It did nothing for the more than 2,000 families that have been separated, with no apparent plan to reunite them.
On the way to the protest, a line of women stood silent outside a parking lot holding poles with children’s outfits. Organized by Tula Holmes, the haunting display symbolized the children missing. Holmes has been working with “the resistance” since Trump’s election. She was not surprised that things had gotten to this point and said that the only solution is at the polls in November.
“We knew that our country had elected a man who is insane and who is a racist,” Holmes said, “so no one should be surprised. The only thing that we can do now is come protest, as everyone is doing, and vote.”
Holmes says that she and the other women will donate the clothes to children in need when the families have been reunited.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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