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Dozens in Bradenton protest separation of immigrant families

Dozens gathered, including two groups, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) to protest the separation of immigrant families Friday evening.
Dozens gathered, including two groups, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) to protest the separation of immigrant families Friday evening. ttompkins@bradenton.com

Eight-year-old Yariel Davila was sadden when he saw images of detained children behind chain-link fences on the news and looked to his grandfather for answers. His grandfather and later his mother tried to explain.

"You can't really explain it to kid," his mother, Beatriz Rodriguez, said.

But the mother of four did her best to explain as outrage sparked across the nation when news broke that more than 1,000 children were being housed at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children. Images of children behind fences at the detention facility in Homestead along with those of children behind cages created by chain-link fences in Texas sparked outrage toward the Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy that was separating children from their parents.

"I thought they were going to different families, but they were getting locked up," Yariel said as he recalled seeing those images.

Yariel just wants the other children to be able to go back to their families, he said.

Dozens of protestors gathered Friday evening at the intersection of Cortez Road and U.S. 41 to demand families be reunited with their asylum-seeking families. Drivers honked and waved in support as they passed the busy intersection.

Rodriguez brought Yariel and her other children to the protest. She clutched to her youngest as the others held their own signs. Born and raised in Bradenton to parents who immigrated from Mexico, the issue struck a chord with Rodriguez, 27.

"I just thank God that didn't happen when my parents were immigrants," Rodriguez said.

The protest was organized by two local organizations: Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, ANSWER Suncoast, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Many of those gathered Friday evening had participated in a similar protest last September after President Donald Trump's announcement to eliminate deportation protection provided under President Barrack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

Patricia Lara, a DACA recipient, was not only saddened by the trauma immigrant children were being subjected to, she said, but concerned of what the future could bring.

"If they are OK doing this to children, what can the rest of us expect?" Lara questioned.

Susan Stewart, 72, was also sickened by the images calling them horrible.

"It's history repeating itself," Steward said. "The United States has done this before, as have other countries."

Stewart was not impressed by President Donald Trump's executive order, saying it seemed his heart was not in it but rather that he caved under political pressure to act. The order itself is problematic, she added.

"Children have become pawns," Stewart said.

Stewart, 72, of Bradenton, said that immigrants were being treated like criminals.

"They are not criminals. They are seeking asylum," Stewart said. "To use that as a way to take away their children is just unconscionable."

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