On June 20, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at calming the public outcry over the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.The “zero tolerance” policy initially required that any adult entering illegally via the border with a child would be detained and separated from the child.
The children would then be placed under supervision and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There are reportedly still 2,000 children who have been separated from their parent(s).
In an effort to have their voices heard, community members gathered together in front of the municipal building in downtown Ogden to rally and protest the Trump administration’s family separation policy on June 27.
Speakers discussed the children being taken into custody and the potentially lifelong emotional and psychological repercussions they will face, alongside personal immigration stories.
Speakers like Santiago Sandoval, a Vietnam war veteran, pled for protestors to gather their information from diverse, credible news sources.
“If you really want to have the best information, we should be looking for facts. Not emotion, not anger,” Sandoval said. “We want to make sure you are studying the topic and you’re not getting hung up on which TV station you’re watching or who you’re listening to. It’s called facts.”
While debate rages about the ethics regarding family separation at the border and immigration at large, the Ogden community members who gathered together that evening participated firsthand in the debate.
Eulogio Alejandre, a Mexican immigrant and current Executive Director Loans Administrator at Esperanza Elementary, spoke openly about his own three-week journey to Utah at 12 years old with his siblings.
“We did not come to the United States to commit crimes as some claim. We came for the opportunity to learn, to live a happy and prosperous life,” Alejandre said. “Our parents always said, ‘It is the land of opportunity.’ It is not the American dream, it is the human dream that we were looking for.”
Alejandre pushed for ralliers to take action by voting for candidates who “espouse your values,” donate to organizations that support civil rights, campaign for causes that support democratic principles and to help donate to scholarships that help fund undocumented students.
“Realistically, ground level, we make a bigger impact when we vote for a candidate that represents us,” said Ogden resident Laura Gonzalez, a case worker for undocumented children. “It’s really important to get registered, but I’d appreciate more information for people that can’t vote because undocumented
Those who are looking to register to vote can do so by visiting voter.utah.gov. Resources for undocumented immigrants, along with immigration help and knowledge on U.S. Constitutional rights, can be found at informedimmigrant.com and theadvocatesforhumanrights.org.