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Rally scheduled to protest family separation at U.S. border

A community rally to denounce the separation of migrant families at the U.S. border and advocate for their reunification will take place Saturday, June 30, at Mitchell Park in Greenport.

The North Fork Spanish Apostolate is sponsoring the #FamiliesBelongTogether gathering, which will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

As part of President Donald Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy, children have been separated from their parents after crossing the border illegally.

The separation of families at the border has been widely covered by national news outlets, including an image of a toddler crying as her mother was being arrested, and the policy received public backlash. On June 20, the president signed an executive order to end the separations and instead detain parents and children together as families, “where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”

Rally organizers plan to send a message that families who were separated as part of the policy must be reunited.

“What we want to do at the gathering is have good people stand up and say, ‘This is not the country that we want to see,’ ” Sister Margaret Smyth of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate said Monday. “We want to assure that families are not split and broken, that’s there’s got to be a better way to do this. And so we’re getting together to stand up and say that. We’re saying it doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat. We’re now talking about humanity.”

Organizers are asking those who participate in the rally to wear white in solidarity, according to a flier for the rally.

Parents attempting to locate a child are given an Office of Refugee Resettlement phone number and email address.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland of Security, adults and children who entered the U.S. illegally were initially detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection before the children were sent to the Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement. Parents were placed in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Each entity will play a role in reunification and, according to a June 23 DHS news release, a process has been established to ensure that family members know where their children are located and have regular communication after separation.

“The United States government knows the location of all children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families,” according to the release.

As of June 22, 522 children who were separated from parents as a part of the zero tolerance initiative had been reunited, according to the DHS. More than 2,000 children were in HHS facilities as of June 20, according to the DHS.

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