Whidbey Island lies off the main drag stretching from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, but it became an integral part of an impassioned cross-country march by activists to “defund hate” in America this past Sunday.
The “Border to Border with Love” banner stopped in Everett on Sept. 8 and then boarded the Mukilteo ferry to greet waiting protesters at Clinton Beach Park on Whidbey.
The banner march is part of the grassroots Indivisible Project with thousands of local chapters across the nation, including Whidbey Island. Along with Snohomish County, Marysville and Edmonds chapters, Whidbey Indivisible joined a human chain to sign and move the banner from Blaine, Wash. to San Diego, Calif. by Friday, Sept. 13.
As part of the Indivisible goal of realizing progressive policies and rebuilding America’s democracy, participants in the march are calling on Congress to take concrete action that defunds hate and cruelty in the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.
Larry Behrendt, leader of Indivisible Whidbey, explains that specific goals are to reduce the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection budgets to 2016 levels and eliminate the ability to steal money from other agencies to fund a “racist and deadly” agenda for immigrant families in America.
Indivisible members believe that defunding the agencies is the best way to fight against family separations, workplace raids and human rights abuses at the border. The “Defund Hate” agenda is to empower ordinary citizens and send the same unifying message to members of Congress.
“At this point, the U.S. government spends more money on immigration enforcement than all other forms of law enforcement combined,” Behrendt said. “What we spend on ICE and CDP budgets is more than twice the budget for the FBI.”
Behrendt stresses the extraordinary expenses involved in detaining asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants in privately operated facilities “at a cost of an average $150 to $200 per day, per immigrant.” He states that Congress has been writing blank checks for years and that it’s greatly accelerating, whereas less cruel methods such as ankle bracelets, supervised release and resettlement of refugees is significantly more cost-effective and humane.
Indivisible members from across Whidbey Island signed the banner and greeted arriving and departing ferry riders with signs and messages to “defund hate with love.” The banner and its encompassing solidarity of West Coast members is now traveling through Oregon and Northern California on its way to the Mexican border.