More than 200 people lined Highway 525 near the Bayview Park and Ride on South Whidbey Saturday morning to protest separations of undocumented immigrant families.
“I think what (President Donald Trump) did, separating children and families, is beyond outrageous,” said organizer Carolyn Tamler, of Freeland. “How can anyone with empathy do this?”
Trump signed an executive order on June 20 ending the practice of separating children from their parents, but the order maintained the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy for all immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally.
Many present at the rally seemed skeptical the order will do enough, especially to reunify families that have already been separated. Tamler said the one positive outcome she’s seen from the policy is it seems to have inspired more people to get involved. She used the national website MoveOn.org to promote the event. She said only 70 signed up to attend, so she was surprised by the large turnout Saturday morning.
As a therapist, Clinton resident Enid Braun took issue with the separations on a personal and professional level.
“I am quite aware of the trauma that is caused by separation,” she said. “It’s a life-long trauma. It’s inhumane.”
The local rally joined more than 700 others like it across the nation. About 270 people attended a simultaneous rally in Coupeville.
There are approximately 200 immigrants detained in Washington state and 174 are women, according to a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson against the practice. The suit states that of those women, a third are mothers who have been separated from their children.
Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson came to show her support for the cause and for those that chose to “speak up.” She said a “humane solution” needs to be found for illegal immigration. She stressed both the importance of due process and participation in elections “at every level of government.”
“Our elected officials at the federal level need to know we support families,” Price Johnson said. “… Each of us should be using our voice.”
Tamler said she appreciated that most people present held handmade signs with phrases like “We Care,” “Resist,” and “Love Heals Fear.”
“I think it’s a testament to people wanting to do some small thing,” she said.