'Families belong together' rally in San Rafael

- An executive order on family separation did not stop hundreds of people from attending a vigil at San Rafael's Civic Center post office. 

The Wednesday evening event was organized earlier in the week, as the issue was roiling the country.

President Trump's critics, who flocked to the rally, say his order is too little, too late because it does not reunite families and continues to warehouse migrant families.

"We know how to do this in Marin, don't we ?" shouted Board of Supervisors President Damon Connolly, to the crowd. 

The Marin board was among hundreds of elected bodies and organizations that sent  letters to Washington opposing family separation.   

"But the door is still open to indefinite detentions," said Connolly, "and we find ourselves careening from one bad decision to the next."

Sprinkled amid the speeches were musical performances, including the Beatles' "Imagine," which brought some people to tears as they sang along 

The crowd was full of multi-generational families, who brought hand-made protest signs and plenty of pent-up emotion. 

"This is not a Republican thing, or Democrat thing, it's a human thing," said teacher David Roberts, who was toting his 4-year-old daughter, Sophia, on his shoulders. 

"I just want a president who is going to represent us, and this country and have feelings, for the citizens here," said Roberts.    

Speakers noted Trump's reversal came only after extraordinary pressure, from the public and from within his own party. 

"Our voice was heard and we brought change because the true voice of America is compassionate, " said retired clinical social worker Mark Brand.

But Brand worries that adults and children, forced apart, will not recover without emotional support.  

"We cared enough about them to raise our voices and bring about change," said Brand, "and we need to keep doing that to get them the help, the nurturance, the therapy they need to heal from this trauma."

Some speakers were passionate, expressing anger.  

"This administration is a pest," shouted one woman, who encouraged the crowd to chant it with her.  
But there was also determination to affect change, as people flocked to a voter-registration table. 

If family separation was the issue that riled them, they were urged to remain active. 

"I think once you start being vocal and advocating for what you believe is right, you stay with it," said organizer Susan Moran, of Indivisible Marin. 

The most rousing voice was that of a 28 year old college graduate, the daughter of undocumented immigrants who fled Central America in the 80's.

"Families belong together," shouted Samantha Ramirez, "build bridges not walls!" 

Ramirez works as the after-school program coordinator at Venetia Valley Elementary School, a short distance from the vigil. 

"Sometimes people will spend a little time at something like this and feel they've done a great job but this is a constant fight," Ramirez told KTVU. 

"This is wearing people out and it's hard to go on with your daily routine when your heart hurts and you see things that are just not right. 

A national day of protest action against Trump immigration policy is set for  June 30.   
 

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