President Donald Trump moved a few days ago to end the practice of taking children from parents crossing the border from Mexico, but that didn’t stop a passionate rally Saturday in Lexington by several hundred people upset with the administration’s immigration actions.
Participants said the policy under which hundreds of children were separated from parents in recent weeks was inhumane, and that the administration has not set out a clear plan to reunite families.
Protesters also said that detaining undocumented immigrants — even if parents and children are together — is wrong when all they have done is try to escape violence in their homes.
Faith Evans, an immigrant from Morocco who became a U.S. citizen, said the people crossing into the U.S. have a right to seek asylum, and have to be in the country in order to make the request.
“Nobody leaves their home country because things are good. It’s a choice between life and death,” Evans said. “We have to dispel the idea that they are criminals.”
The Kentucky chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) organized the rally.
Several other social-justice organizations were represented, including the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice, Kentucky Refugee Ministries, the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, the Bluegrass Activist Alliance and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.
“We stand in solidarity with our immigrant and refugee families,” said Karen Conley, vice-president of the Kentucky NOW chapter.
The rally was in the downtown courthouse plaza. White and brown kids splashed in the fountain as speakers condemned the administration's actions.
While some people support Trump's hardline stance, people at the rally said hostility to immigrants is an affront to American values.
“I want to return to our core American values, and inclusiveness is one of them,” said Kremena Todorova, a professor at Transylvania University who came to the U.S from Bulgaria. “I believe immigrants and refugees should be welcome here.”
State Rep. Reggie Thomas, a Democrat from Lexington, said he and others at the rally believe all people are equal, but that Trump doesn’t believe that.
“We’re here today because we believe in the American dream,” Thomas said.
Chris Bruggman, a licensed clinical social worker from Louisville, said children separated from their parents will suffer emotional damage.
“It’s just sick and disgusting that he’s using these kids as bargaining chips” in seeking to build a border wall, Bruggman said of Trump.
Participants also criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions over using the Bible in defending the administration’s policy.
Rev. Dalene Vasbinder, pastor at Woodland Christian Church in Lexington, said Sessions misused the Bible. She reminded the crowd that Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God completely, but that the second was to “love your neighbor as yourself,” as the crowd cheered.