Immigration protesters throng Port Hadlock

KIRK BOXLEITNER
KBOXLEITNER@PTLEADER.COM
Posted 6/26/18

All four corners of the intersection between Highway 116 and Irondale Road in Port Hadlock were packed with more than 250 protestors June 22, hoisting signs and shouting slogans to express their …

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Immigration protesters throng Port Hadlock

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All four corners of the intersection between Highway 116 and Irondale Road in Port Hadlock were packed with more than 250 protestors June 22, hoisting signs and shouting slogans to express their objections to the Trump administration's policies toward detaining illegal migrant families.

Although President Trump signed an executive order June 20 to end the separation of children from their parents who entered the United States illegally, the protest organized by the Jefferson County Immigrant Rights Advocates still proceeded as scheduled, with JCIRA Board Chair Libby Palmer distributing fliers explaining why they still found the President's policies unacceptable.

"There are still more than 2,300 children who have already been separate from their families, and haven't seen their mothers in weeks," Palmer said, who noted the executive order does not state what steps those families might take to be reunited. "The fact that I don't even know how long it's been, for so many of these kids, makes me cringe inside.

Palmer likewise criticized the executive order for leaving the administration's "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal migrants intact, and pointed out loopholes in its language, which could allow migrant children to be separated from their parents again after 20 days, or if "available resources" do not exist to detain them together.

Port Townsend's Carol Graves described the treatment of migrants as an issue haunting her "when I wake up, and when I go to bed," so "short of going to the border and lying down in front of cars," picketing in public was the least she could think of to do.

Fellow Port Townsend protestor Sally Goddard saw it as an essential not only to make her voice heard through such demonstrations, but also by encouraging others to join her in voting for those candidates who support their cause.

"We have to end what's being done to our wonderful immigrants," Goddard said. "Three of my grandparents were immigrants. What's being done to immigrants today does not represent this country or its values, and it makes me very sad."

Goddard's concerns about how the trauma of being separated from their parents could affect the mental and emotional health of young migrants was echoed by Robin Ornelas, a former kindergarten teacher.

"Putting children in prison is already immoral, especially when it's away from their parents," Ornelas said, as she showed off a jacket she customized to resemble First Lady Melania Trump.

While boarding an Air Force plane to visit migrant children at the Texas-Mexico border June 21, the First Lady wore a green jacket with the words "I really don't care, do u?" written in white on the back.

When Ornelas realized she owned a jacket of the same style and color, she used tape to write the words "I really care, don't u?" on the back of her own jacket.

Among the various signs bearing anti-Trump lines, Melania Trump's sartorial choice was reflected in the black tape on the back of Carol Anthony-Gartlan's white shirt, reading, "Yes I care," and the plain white poster board by Karen DeLorenzo, with the words, "Yes, Melania, we do care," in black magic marker.

"I'm not sure what exactly will work to change things," Palmer said. "What I do know is that protests like these have to continue until something does change. I hear Congress is drafting bills to further alter the administration's migrant policies, and I'm glad, but I don't know how long those might take to pass, or even if they will."

Palmer invited the public to log onto www.jcira.org for more information about her group and its stances.

"I'm not sure what exactly will work to change things. What I do know is that protests like these have to continue until something does change."

Libby Palmer

BOARD CHAIR JEFFERSON COUNTY IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ADVOCATES

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