Oxford joins the country in protesting Trump’s immigration policy

Published: Saturday, June 30, 2018 @ 8:44 PM

A protester holds a signs on Saturday, June 30, 2018, at Memorial Park in Uptown Oxford during a rally protesting President Donald Trump’s immigration policy where migrant children were separated from their families as they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border over the past several weeks. Trump has since signed an order directing that families not be separated, though thousands are still separated, according to national media reports. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
Staff Writer
A protester holds a signs on Saturday, June 30, 2018, at Memorial Park in Uptown Oxford during a rally protesting President Donald Trump’s immigration policy where migrant children were separated from their families as they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border over the past several weeks. Trump has since signed an order directing that families not be separated, though thousands are still separated, according to national media reports. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF(Staff Writer)

Close to 200 people stood around the pavilion at Memorial Park in Uptown Oxford to send the message that “Families Belong Together.”

That message was echoed across the country has hundreds of thousands of people rallied at similar events on Saturday in a nationwide day of action.

RELATED: 4 things to know about Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy

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Protesters in Oxford and across the country held signs, chanted and voiced their dissent to the accounts of children separated from their parents at the United States-Mexico border. Many of the migrants crossing the border had claimed asylum — which is permitted under U.S. law — as they escape the violence of drug cartels and gangs they claim endanger their lives.

It is also the latest protest in the country against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Trump has backed down from his family separation policy, which has drawn sharp criticism along bipartisan lines in the U.S. and among international leaders.

Protesters hold up signs on Saturday, June 30, 2018, at Memorial Park in Uptown Oxford during a rally protesting President Donald Trump’s immigration policy where migrant children were separated from their families as they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border over the past several weeks. Trump has since signed an order directing that families not be separated, though thousands are still separated, according to national media reports. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF(Staff Writer)

In April, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he directed prosecutors along the Southwest border “to have a zero tolerance policy toward immigration.” On June 20, President Trump signed an executive order keeping migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border together. After six weeks of the “zero tolerance” policy, more than 2,300 children had been separated from their families, according to national media reports.

RELATED: Hundreds arrested in D.C. protesting Trump immigration policy

“Too many times in our past, our country has hurt others in the quest for money, land, fame, resources and power,” said Amy Shaiman, a co-organizer of the Oxford “Families Belong Together” rally. “Weeks ago this administration began doing it again, taking children away from their families because to our president they are unwanted, undesirable, different, perceived as a threat.”

Shaiman said these are people who are in many cases “fleeing for their lives.”

“Our government rips children from the arms of their parents without asking their names, their contact information, medical or allergy information, or anything else,” she said. “Nothing to show any intent of trying to do anything other than to throw them away.”

Democratic Congressional candidate Vanessa Enoch, of West Chester Twp., called what’s happening along the U.S.-Mexico border “a travesty of justice” and “disgusting.”

Jacqueline Rioja Velarde speaks to those who rallied on Saturday, June 30, 2018, to protest at Memorial Park in Uptown Oxford President Donald Trump’s immigration policy where migrant children were separated from their families as they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border over the past several weeks. Trump has since signed an order directing that families not be separated, though thousands are still separated, according to national media reports. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF(Staff Writer)

“We should not aspire to be this America,” she said. “This is not the America we want to be.”

RELATED: Courthouse Square gathering rallies against Trump immigration policies

Oxford resident Jacqueline Rioja Velarde, a mother of a teenager, said the families taken into custody at the border had committed the “crime of seeking a better life.”

“We must stand up against these crimes against humanity,” she said. “We must fight back.”

She said that every day migrant children are separated from their parents’ cause “irreparable harm and trauma because families fleeing violence and persecution should be free indefinitely. We take action as a community. Let’s raise our voices.”

Rebecca Howard, the Democratic candidate for the 53rd Ohio House District, watched the activities along the southwestern border, her “heart is broken repeatedly.”

“The stress of separation is not better or worse for families in Butler County than it is elsewhere, however, the inherent racism reflected in our current immigration policy along the Southwest Border, the lack of community supports the basic violation of human rights.”

A protester holds a sign on Saturday, June 30, 2018, at Memorial Park in Uptown Oxford during a rally protesting President Donald Trump’s immigration policy where migrant children were separated from their families as they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border over the past several weeks. Trump has since signed an order directing that families not be separated, though thousands are still separated, according to national media reports. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF(Staff Writer)
The Associated Press contributed to this story.