Separating Families: Bay Area resists with anti-zero tolerance rallies

Several anti-zero tolerance rallies were held around the Bay Area Thursday. The largest was at San Jose City Hall, where hundreds gathered to denounce what they call a “terrorist policy.”

That rally in downtown San Jose was similar to those held in dozens of other cities across the country.

South Bay residents said they were standing for immigrant families, and against what they call divisive politics.

“This is not political. This is about humanity. This is about people’s lives,” said Heather Valentine, who helped organize the San Jose rally. 

A coalition of social justice groups gathered in the warm evening sun, just outside the City Hall rotunda, in a show of solidarity. Through chants, and signs, and speeches, they want an end to what’s been designated by Washington as “zero tolerance.”

“The goal is to bring awareness to the problem.; to let people know these policies are not what the United States stands for,” said Carmen Barcena, an immigration paralegal professional.

The Trump administration’s decision Tuesday to separate children from undocumented parents trying to cross the southern U.S. border hits a nerve with many people, especially those who were immigrants.

“My own father was deported from here while he was working in the fields of Turlock. I know the fears of being alone and being separated,” said rally participant Ana Maria Vasquez.

Added Valentine, who works as a high school family therapist, “For kids it can be things like depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress syndrome, attachment disorders.”

Attendees say there is a moral imperative, to end the policy, and protect those who are now at-risk of detention.

“There has to be some semblance of morality in the decisions we’re making as a country. We have to ask ourselves, look in the mirror – what kind of country are we when we’re separating families?” asked San Jose District 2 councilman Sergio Jimenez.

So, a clarion call is rising, to end “zero tolerance,” and remove the people who put it in place.

“I call on you in the name of god in the name of the most divine, in the name of the most holy, to make this your personal prayer – to fight to resist, and to never let this happen again!,” exhorted Father Jon Pergio of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.

Organizers handed out phone numbers for both California U.S. senators, and also encouraged everyone attending to vote in November if they’re serious about creating change.