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Athens community members marching in support of immigrant families on June 29. 

Athens community members gathered in solidarity against 'zero-tolerance' immigration policies

Athens community members held a rally and marched Friday in support of immigrant families and to voice opposition of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Nearly 200 people gathered on College Green in response to Trump signing an executive order last week. Although it ended the separation of immigrant families by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), people around the country are protesting because that order does not address children who have already been separated from their families under the “zero tolerance” policy.

“What we want is for this administration to stop its latest war on the poor folks and people of color,” said Reverend Don Rollins of the Unitarian Universalists Fellowship of Athens. “It’s not a contest for hearts; it’s a contest for justice.”

Groups including Ohio’s Future Action Fund, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Indivisible Appalachia, the Ohio University LGBT Center, the International Socialist Organization and the Unitarian Universalists Fellowship of Athens organized the march.

Six community members spoke at the rally. Their topics ranged from the policies' impact on the U.S. labor force, psychological implications for immigrant families and the factors that led to the separation of immigrant families at the border. 

“I want to make it clear that it has been a bipartisan effort to create this machine that Donald Trump is using. It’s been a long history of racist deportations,” said Ryan Powers, a member of the International Socialist Organization. “Donald Trump is not the system: he is the symptom of a rotten system.”

Speakers at the rally also touched on the Trump administration’s response to criticism of the immigration policies.

“Trump’s executive order to keep families together was a weak response to the mounting pressure against his unconstitutional, illegal and inhumane treatment of migrant refugees,” said Dr. Alicia Chavira-Prado, an Athens resident.

The demonstration was just one of over 700 Families Belong Together events this weekend. Families Belong Together is an organization resisting the Trump administration’s border crackdown. 

“Immigrants are here to stay," said Carla Triana, an Ohio University senior studying international business. "We are not rapists, we are not terrorists. We do so much for the community and I just want people to understand and realize that the cultural exchange that happens when we learn from one another instead of constantly criticizing and separating each other."

At the end of the rally, Patty Mitchell, the chief executive officer of Creative Abundance Consulting and Honey for the Heart director, invited Athens community members to help make a collage of 11,000 hearts to send to communities affected by the immigration policies. The deadline to submit decorated hearts to Passion Works, 20 E. State St., is July 17.


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