Hundreds speak up for undocumented children at the border

Jul 19 2019 | 12:25 PM

    By Geri Corey
    News traveled fast about a protest coming to the Everett Memorial in Goshen's Church Park on Friday evening, July 12. Nearly 200 people turned out.
    Those who gathered at the base of the memorial to protest the government’s handling of undocumented migrants at the southern border came from Goshen, Chester, Monroe, Warwick, New Paltz, Highland, and as far as Philipstown, N.Y., almost an hour’s drive away.
    The vigil's sponsors, Philipstown Women are Watching, planned their gathering in Goshen because it has the nearest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility — the Orange County Correctional Facility on Wells Farm Road, where the Jewish community held a similar protest the previous Monday. The protest focused on the separation of children from their parents at the border, and the children's detention in cages.
    "It’s just so sad, basically administering cruelty to people who are fleeing violence and cruelty," said Sonia Ryzy-Ryski, a member of Philipstown Women are Watching. "The administration is imposing a policy meant to deter and in doing that is traumatizing others, many others, thousands of others.”
    The people carried signs stating their beliefs:
    “We are all human. Close the camps."
    “Resist mass detention and deportation."
    "Immigrants make America great.”
    They chanted in unison:
    “No excuses for human rights abuses."
    "We want justice. Now."
    "Ain’t no power like the power of the people."
    "2, 4, 6, 8. ICE must go; we will not wait."
    "Hey, hey, ho, ho. Deportation has to go.”
    And they sang poignant lyrics like, “As I was watching the evening newscast, I saw in cages immigrant outcasts, And crying children without their parents,” sung to the tune of “This Land is your Land.”
    Yell, write letters
    Ricann Bock, the event organizer from Philipstown, said she came to shine a light on what’s happening at the southern border, calling it “horrific."
    "I feel better when I take action," she said.
    She urged others to do the same. She asked them to protest, yell and scream, and write letters and postcards to their elected federal representatives and to newspapers.
    “They’re supposed to represent us,” she said. “Start big. Write to The New York Times.
    “This protest is the first step. Let’s continue.”
    Civil rights attorney Michael Sussman of Chester told the crowd, “It’s time to get angry, and it must be sustained anger. This is a defining moral issue — what we did or didn’t do will live on.”
    He too urged the crowd to keep the movement going.
    “Make it a focus in our lives,” he said.
    Gloria Bonelli, a Goshen resident and activist, said the huge turnout "astounded her."
    “This issue transcends traditional issues," she said. "We must not treat children this way.”
    The urgent children’s issues raised at the protest included family separation, sickness, hunger, the lack of clean diapers or clean drinking water, sleep deprivation, and dehumanization.
    “I urge you to use your vote to change what must be changed," Bonelli told the gathering. "Vote. Vote. Vote in an informed manner."
    Shannon Wong of Goshen, chapter director of the New York Civil Liberties Union and a former county legislator, referred to the “horrific abuses happening on the border." She urged the audience to “make demands on Congress, hold them accountable. Call on Trump to cancel ICE and instead provide medical and humane care for the children.”
    Wong distributed a pamphlet titled “Know Your Rights: What to Do if You’re Stopped by Immigration Officers” that provides detailed information for documented and undocumented immigrants in the United States. The pamphlet is available online at bit.ly/2Lk63zz.
    “Remember, deportation without a day in court is illegal and immoral,” said Wong.
    The event concluded with a single mother’s nightmare story of her undocumented life in the United States.
    “I didn’t know I was undocumented,” she began, going on to relate the problems and harassment that her son, also undocumented, endured, and that brought about his death.
    “I only ask for respect,” said the woman. “I am undocumented, but I’m not ashamed.”
    The protest concluded with a car caravan to the Orange County Correctional Facility for a candlelight vigil.
    Related story
    Please see related story at chroniclenewspaper.com:
    "Community rallies at jail to stop the persecution of migrants"