Kennedy Cassidy

Patterson resident and a PPA leader, Kennedy Cassidy at the march protesting the separation of families on Saturday, June 30.

Local residents joined nearly a thousand people in a downtown Modesto march on June 30, opposing federal policies separating immigrant families.

The march was organized by several community groups who are interested in seeing federally detained children reunited with their families.

One of the involved groups was the Patterson Progressive Alliance (PPA), a local organization dedicated to social and environmental issues in the region. Holding the banner and leading the march was PPA member Ryan Segoviano “I am very proud of the people in our area standing up for others, especially kids. In this country we have a voice and we need to speak up for those who can not do so for themselves.” His statement echoed the overall sentiment of the peaceful, but determined crowd.

The event featured speakers such as immigrant Leng Nao, who spoke of her emotional experience as a young girl fleeing her home country, traveling to the United States with her family in the hopes of a brighter future.

The touching story reminds us that we do not get to choose where we are born, and are blessed to not have to make such a decision to travel with our child thousands of miles to a new country, with a new language, to begin a new life where one’s basic survival is not threatened.

Another highlight speaker was congressional candidate Josh Harder, who implored everyone to do what they can to address this issue by getting active in their local groups, and most importantly, by voting this November.

Without delving into the details, the issue of child separation at our border is a microcosm of the broader issue of immigration reform for millions. Zero tolerance has created more strife and economic hardship than imagined.

One thing is evident: Children ought not be in cages, separated from their families, not allowed to give a sibling a consoling warm hug. It is inhumane and tests human rights law. At the end of the day, half of the children, including toddlers, will not be reunited with their families, and that deserves outrage.

Empathy and understanding are key when we look at our policies that have real human impact on tens of thousands of people each year. Let’s be better, let’s do better.

From New Colossus (also known as The Statue of Liberty Poem)

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The issue of families being separated at our nation’s border is a microcosm of immigration policy as a whole. People coming to America seeking a brighter future is as American as apple pie, or more local - as burritos.

Between fall 2017 and spring 2018, over 3,000 children have been separated from their parents at the United States border. Because crossing the border is considered a criminal offense, parents go to a federal judge, where children do not visit.

We need to protect our borders for national security. This is a sentiment few, if any, hold issue with.

The administration’s zero-tolerance policy would in essence end asylum for those who have been victims of domestic abuse and will impact tens of thousands of immigrants each year; roughly 60 percent of total asylum seekers are women and children.

Sending folks back to dangerous situations where they could very well be tortured or killed is against American and international human rights law.

Relevant facts

Although we are witnessing relatively* low numbers in border crossings...

Migrants employed via the H-2B Visas are often susceptible to mistreatment and exploitation by their American employers, including human trafficking, all while typically earning the same wages as their undocumented counterparts.

Unauthorized workers make up nine percent of California’s workforce and contribute* billions to our economy. Undercutting undocumented immigrants hurts those who work in similar fields.

Only 14 percent of undocumented immigrants have lived in the US for less than five years.

Immigrants—defined as all foreign-born persons, and including all immigration statuses (temporary, permanent and unauthorized)—are a significant and important part of California’s population and workforce.

A total of 43.7 million immigrants live in the United States, representing 13.5 percent of the U.S. population (Zong, Batalova, and Hallock 2018); 10.7 million of those immigrants live in California, representing 27.3 percent of the state’s population. And 6.6 million immigrants are part of California’s workforce, accounting for a third of California’s total workforce (AIC 2017).

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