Protest Against Trump Immigration Policy Hits Downtown Boulder
Speaking Friday from atop the stage at the Glen Huntington Bandshell in downtown Boulder, Latino Chamber Executive Director Jose Beteta confessed something to the people crowded into nearby bleachers.
“I’m an immigrant,” he said.
Beteta and numerous other speakers, some who also are immigrants, and others who are the children of immigrants, gathered to protest the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that calls for anyone who crosses into the United States illegally to be prosecuted. Since the policy was implemented, more than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents.
“What is going on right now is just unbelievable,” Beteta said. “This is not what I’ve seen in the 25 years I’ve lived in the U.S. and the communities I’ve lived in. I’ve never seen this. This is top-down policies that are just ridiculous and just don’t show our humanity.”
An image of a young Honduran girl crying as her mother was searched at the border (it has since come to light that the two weren’t separated) and an audio recording of sobbing children at a detention center have sparked widespread outrage against the policy.
President Donald Trump this week signed an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border. However, no immediate plans exist for reuniting the families, and the federal government plans to outfit military bases to intern as many as 20,000 people. The president has again ramped up false rhetoric that immigrants come to the United States to commit crime.
Many of the people being detained at the border are coming from Central America, where countries like Honduras and El Salvador have endured decades of violence and poverty.
Demonstrator Anna Segur met her husband in El Salvador, and a family acquaintance recently fled the tiny nation because he was being pressured to join a gang. He is seeking asylum in the United States.
“I’ve lived there,” Segur said. “I’ve seen the conditions people are fleeing from, conditions the United States helped create.”
In the 1980s, the United States sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the El Salvadoran government, which employed “death squads” in its fight against Marxist rebels.
Thousands of people died in the more than a decade long civil war and thousands fled the country.
Between 300 and 400 people turned out Friday afternoon bearing placards, but several protesters wore their own version of a drab green jacket that first lady Melania Trump wore to the Mexican border this week that read “I don’t really care. Do U?” It was lambasted as being in poor taste.
Demonstrator Kenneth Nova taped the words, “I really do care. Don’t you?” onto his chambray shirt.
“This is what Melania should have worn,” Nova said. “The whole Trump administration has been so totally tone deaf about anything having to do with compassion. If they are just trying to be outrageous, that is terrible. Those families have suffered so much.”
After numerous speakers addressed the crowd, demonstrators lined up at the intersection of Broadway and Canyon Boulevard to chant and wave placards. Many passing motorists honked in support.
Demonstrator Linda Buitron, 11, is a United States citizen, but her father is an immigrant from Mexico and her mother is an immigrant from Honduras. She said it doesn’t make sense to call her country the United States if everyone is being divided.
“If there was another word that was much more horrible than the worst word you can ever say, I’d say it,” she said. “It’s just horrible that kids are being put in cages, and I want to support them.”
John Bear: 303-473-1355, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/johnbearwithme