SILVER SPRING — In the face of President Trump’s family separation policy, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8) gathered with constituents for a candlelight vigil Friday.
“The shameful policy separating parents from children is not only a violation of international law, which it is; it’s not only a violation of our treaties on the treatment of refugees; it’s not only a violation of the Constitution of the United States of America,” Raskin said from a stage at Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring to a crowd of approximately 200 people. “This policy is not who we are.”
Attendees gathered on the eve of Saturday’s Families Belong Together March, organized by national civil rights groups, in response to the Trump administration’s policy to separate children from their parents at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico Border.
“I just share the frustration of everyone that was here at what’s happening to these children and their families,” said Alyce Ortuzar, a Silver Spring resident in attendance. “What I would like to do is hold these officials … border patrol guards … guards in the detention centers responsible for crimes against humanity; that was the legacy of Holocaust and the United States put in place under the Nuremberg principles and I want to see them applied.”
“I want a clear message sent to anyone in this country that participates in such immoral brutality that they won’t get away with it,” she added.
The event included as speakers: County Council member Nancy Navarro (D-District 4), Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), CASA president Jose Aguiluz, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services Youth Coordinator Luis Cardona, Rabbi Gerald Serotta, music by the DC Labor Chorus and gospel singer Paree Roper, and poem recitations by Democracy Summer interns and local students.
“Every single day we wake up, we can’t seem to keep up with the insanity that is happening at the national level, at the state level, and how it trickles down to our own community,” Navarro said.
Aside from Raskin, Jaypal and Navarro, other elected officials in attendance included Sen. Susan Lee (D-District 16), Del. David Moon (D-District 20), Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart, Takoma Park City Council member Kacy Kostiuk (Ward 3), Delegate-elect Lorig Charkudian (D-District 20), Democratic Central Committee member Jennifer Hosey, and Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor, Susan Turnbull.
Local student activists representing their organizations also attended.
“Simply put, these policies are inhumane,” said Michael Nevett, a Walter Johnson graduate and an activist with MoCo Students for Gun Control. “I’ve been seeing on the news … and everywhere and I just want to do something to stop it.”
Nate Tinbite, a rising junior at John F. Kennedy High School and president of the regional SGA, said his parents emigrated from Ethiopia and felt “students and youth needed to stand up to this important issue.”
Matt Post, a recent Sherwood High School graduate who recently concluded a term as the Student Member of the Montgomery County Board of Education, said, “People have to show up over and over again” in “these times of evil.”
Turnbull, who was recently nominated alongside Ben Jealous to face Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, explained that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency primary responsible for enforcing and carrying out deportations, was not making the state “safe.”
“Gov. Hogan allows ICE to operate in the State of Maryland; we will not,” she added.