News

Religious leaders, community members hold vigil to protest treatment of migrants in detention

Rabbis use Jewish period of mourning to oppose the treatment of children and families detained by ICE

Pat Lang attends Bend the Arc's peaceful protest against the treatment of children and asylum seekers at the country's southern border. She was part of a group holding a three-week vigil at Page Mill Road and El Camino Real in Palo Alto on July 23. Photo by Sinead Chang.

A little before noon, a small crowd starts to gather at the intersection of El Camino Real and Page Mill Road in Palo Alto. The group dispenses signs, a flag and a plastic replica of the torch that the Statue of Liberty carries. Participants stand at the four corners of the junction waving signs that read, "Stop putting kids in cages" and "Close the camps," at the cars that pass by. Some of the drivers honk to show their support.

The group is a jumble of religious figures who organized the protest, community members who responded and the occasional passerby who stops to join. Members of Bend the Arc, a socially-A little before noon, a small crowd starts to gather at the intersection of El Camino Real and Page Mill Road in Palo Alto. The group dispenses signs, a flag and a plastic replica of the torch that the Statue of Liberty carries. Participants stand at the four corners of the junction waving signs that read, "Stop putting kids in cages" and "Close the camps," at the cars that pass by. Some of the drivers honk to show their support.

The group is a jumble of religious figures who organized the protest, community members who responded and the occasional passerby who stops to join. Members of Bend the Arc, a socially progressive Jewish organization, and Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice, an interfaith social-justice group, organized the vigil, which began on July 21, to protest the treatment of migrants detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. It will be held daily, excluding Saturdays, until Aug. 11 from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Sheldon Lewis, a rabbi with Bend the Arc who helped organize the event, centered it around the Jewish holiday Bein haMetzarim, or "the Three Weeks," which mourns the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

"Long ago in the Jewish community there were some great tragedies. The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, and rabbis who reflected on this came to the conclusion that it wasn't just Rome that destroyed the Jewish commonwealth and the temple, but it was our own divisions and the way we didn't live up to our own principles and our own values," Lewis said.

"We're here today because we don't believe that our country is living up to its own values. Certainly not Jewish values, not American values of being welcoming to the refugees, having compassion for children and families who are looking for safety and often fleeing for their lives."

Nechama Tamler, a rabbi who organized the vigil, said that the protest was a response to her frustration with the government's response to migrants seeking asylum in the U.S.

"Last year I started doing what everybody does: sending money and spreading the word and being outraged and calling (Rep.) Anna Eshoo and (U.S. senators) Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and it's just gotten worse," she said. "About three or four weeks ago I hit a wall, and I said, 'I cannot let this happen in my name, my government.'"

Julia Hallee, another organizer, said that her work as a pediatrician prompted her to take a stand against separating children from their families.

"This is irreparable harm that we are doing to each and every one of those children," Hallee said.

According to the organizers, there have been a few negative encounters from people passing by.

"We get an occasional negative comment that we're traitors. That's very rare, but it happens," Lewis said. "We're a country of free speech, so people can react as they wish."

However, the group has also received a number of positive responses, including a few people who stopped to join the event. On Monday, Tamler said, a man stopped and handed out water bottles to those at the vigil. The group was also joined by Assembly member Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, on Thursday.

Since the vigil started, Tamler said she has gotten in touch with other organizations and religious groups who want to participate. The vigil will culminate with a multifaith demonstration in front of City Hall at 6 p.m. on Aug. 11, with members of both the Jewish and Quaker communities organizing the event.

The end of the vigil will not, however, stop Tamler's efforts on this issue. She has been in contact with other state and national representatives, and will meet with Eshoo sometime in mid-August.

"There's not an end to this activism until no more families are separated and until the situation at the border changes," Tamler said. "We're going to keep on being active on these issues until we have a good immigration policy in this country."

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Comments

10 people like this
Posted by Sylvia Gardner
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2019 at 7:58 am

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2019 at 8:03 am

[Post removed.]


22 people like this
Posted by Harold Zable
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 2, 2019 at 9:58 am

Regardless of who you think started the policy, the policy is wrong *now*. Stop putting kids in cages first and then argue about who started it when there's no ongoing harm.


10 people like this
Posted by Abledavid
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 2, 2019 at 10:33 am

Why don’t some protesters make a vigil to the border and assist people with the inevitable paperwork that goes along with the process of becoming an American? My wife was an illegal alien years ago and we just went through the process, waited patiently and rectified her situation. Years later, she earned her Masters degree and had a successful career as an American citizen.


8 people like this
Posted by almunday60
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2019 at 10:59 am

almunday60 is a registered user.

wonder how long they will protest this??? How about protesting child hunger that is always happening


16 people like this
Posted by Aletheia
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 2, 2019 at 11:11 am

Aletheia is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] Our current asylum laws are clearly bad because they allow almost anybody to claim it which acts as a magnet to asylum seekers.


15 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2019 at 11:27 am

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

I don't recall these groups protesting the same circumstances during the terms of President Obama.


11 people like this
Posted by Love thy Neighbor.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 2, 2019 at 11:30 am

Love thy Neighbor. is a registered user.

Separating young children from their parents is inhumane. It can create lifelong psychological damage. These people are fleeing violence. They are coming to us for help. As a Christian, I am dismayed and sorrowful to see the lack of compassion in the posts here. The numbers of migrants are increasing--partly because of policies and practices of the present administration. The way these facilities are being used has changed substantively.

The facility was built during the Obama administration, but the way it is being used right now is appalling. It was not built to handle the number of people who are presently being held. This is clearly an inhumane way to treat people. I oppose it.



23 people like this
Posted by A Moral Compass
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 2, 2019 at 12:22 pm

A Moral Compass is a registered user.

> I don't recall these groups protesting the same circumstances during the terms of President Obama.

^^^ Good point as these inhumane detentions also occurred during Obama's tenure. Perhaps POTUS/45 vitriol has led to greater scrutiny of an ongoing practice + the Democrats are always seeking ammo for the upcoming 2020 elections.

Where were the Democrats & why weren't the likes of Pelosi & company being far more outspoken when this questionable practice was taking place during a Democratic administration?

The children should not be separated from their immediate families unless they happened to cross the border in the absence of their parents in which case all efforts should be made for reunification.

Mexico also has a responsibility to ensure the cohesiveness of families seeking refuge. Whether Mexico is pro-actively involved in this process has not been fully addressed by the media.


9 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2019 at 2:58 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

To Love Thy Neighbor.....What policies and practices of the current administration specifically are causing the increased numbers of migrants flooding the border?

President Obama deported more illegals than any president in history and separated children from families at the border, despite what the deniers of this fact purport. I suppose that would be a deterrent to those attempting to come into the country illegally and without valid asylum concerns and now that he is no longer in office, deportation numbers have gone down and the border has been slammed with those attempting illegal entry or false asylum claims to gain entry.

The facilities being used are overcrowded and agents at the border are overwhelmed because of the increased numbers. If anything, conditions are improved compared to what has been shown during Obama's years in office.

We should hope that other border countries will take some of the load off our borders by doing what international agreements have laid forth as policy. Some are stepping up. Asylum seekers should be provided asylum at the country of entry and for the most part,that's not the USA. Most are coming from countries other than Mexico and Canada.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 2, 2019 at 4:28 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Start protesting to your legislative representative - Anna Eshoo and Nancy Pelosi. The congress is responsible for updating the immigration laws and funding the retention of migrants until their specific cases can be adjudicated. You all are protesting the obvious outcome of lack of resolution in congress on this matter. This whole mess was totally predictable due to congress not resolving the migration laws.
As to the non-profit organizations which are fueling the migration caravans which have been unprecedented in size they should be working in the country of origin and protesting to the respective governments from which the people are coming from.
Problems are suppose to be resolved at the point of origin - not the end result of political delay in addressing the problem.


27 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2019 at 4:49 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Stop spending American taxpayer dollars on illegals and asylum seekers!!! They are NOT the responsibility of our government!!! They ARE the responsibility of the governments of the countries from which they came. What's immoral is that American taxpayer dollars are being spent on illegals and asylum seekers when there are presently thousands of American citizens who need help, who are going without housing, medical care, food, child care, clothing, transportation, money for education, etc. California, especially, as a "sanctuary" state has become a magnet for illegals and asylum seekers, and our American taxpayer dollars are footing the bill!!! Think about it, folks!!!


4 people like this
Posted by rocknrollMD
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 3, 2019 at 1:29 am

rocknrollMD is a registered user.

There have been abuses at the border before. Some are new and were introduced deliberately as a way to discourage asylum seekers, with the theory that tearing infants and very young children from their parents (for example) would discourage others from trying to seek asylum. The courts struck the separation policy down and hundreds of children continue to be separated. I am not an attorney but that looks criminal to me. I am a pediatrician and what is being done to those infants and children is irreparable harm. What their parents are enduring is inhumane. Aside from being untrue the “Obama did it” defense is analogous to “I’m not the puppet you’re the puppet”. We have to do something.


22 people like this
Posted by rocknrollMD
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 3, 2019 at 1:30 am

rocknrollMD is a registered user.

There have been abuses at the border before. Some are new and were introduced deliberately as a way to discourage asylum seekers, with the theory that tearing infants and very young children from their parents (for example) would discourage others from trying to seek asylum. The courts struck the separation policy down and hundreds of children continue to be separated. I am not an attorney but that looks criminal to me. I am a pediatrician and what is being done to those infants and children is irreparable harm. Aside from being untrue the “Obama did it” defense is analogous to “I’m not the puppet you’re the puppet”. We have to do something.


28 people like this
Posted by rocknrollMD
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 3, 2019 at 1:37 am

rocknrollMD is a registered user.

Many abuses have occurred on the border before. Separating infants and children from parents is new; it is being done to discourage asylum seeking. The US courts have condemned this policy and yet it continues. I am not an attorney but that looks criminal. I am a pediatrician and I can assure you, fellow readers, that this is abusive and cruel and does irreparable harm to children. Our country is better than this.


33 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2019 at 2:20 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

These aren't "immigrants." These are ILLEGAL immigrants. I am an immigrant. Illegal immigration cheapens what legal immigrants work so hard for.

Now, I feel for them. I empathize with them. I feel compassion for them. However, they are still ignoring the law. Over the last several years, they have been abusing an "asylum" system and clogging our immigration judicial system after they're caught.

No other country in the world has an immigration system as readily abused as our nation's.

I would add that the media's depiction of the detention centers is false. I have family members living in the Rio Grande Valley who have volunteered to help at such centers.

Those centers aren't what political opportunists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her friends pretend through deceptive photo ops while peering at parked cars. The children are separated from their parents while their parents are detained and processed. However, that is no less humane from children being separated when American parents get caught violating the law.

The bottom line is that most Americans agree that illegal immigration is a major problem in our country. It is enormously costly; and, the solution from Democrats is seemingly to DO NOTHING and pretend that its not an issue.

This issue is going to hurt Democrats in 2020 in the very states that they can't afford to lose.


21 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2019 at 8:49 am

pearl is a registered user.

@Nayell:

Thank you for your comment. I am forwarding this news article to local tv news stations for their information. I will point out your comment to them, as I think it accurately sizes up the situation at hand.

pearl


16 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 4, 2019 at 7:33 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I agree with the above - for a number of years the D's said there is no problem at the border. They did not want to address this in congress and resolve it with updated laws. It was obvious that the end result would be a disaster. It does not help that organizations are encouraging the migrants to make the trip. Everyone should be focusing on the locations they are coming from and press the governments to take care of their citizens. You resolve problems at point of origin.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 6, 2019 at 8:49 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Reading from the pediatrician above people are bringing babies and small children on these 2,000 mile migrant hikes through land that has few amenities in what is 90 to 100 degree heat. And we know from what is published in the papers of "discussions" with the migrants that they are coming here for jobs. What ever those jobs are is never disclosed. What possesses a parent to send babies and children through hell and expect them to survive the ordeal. Or expect nirvana at the end - reaching the "golden land" which at this time is filled with homeless people. There is a giant lapse in focus here on what the people who are encouraging this giant migration are doing and their intent. They clearly have no ability to provide "jobs' to these people.

What I would like to see is the "professional" migrant champions to go down to these countries and organize the schools and help create jobs in those countries. It is clear to me that if the families of those people stick together they have a better opportunity to get their respective governments to respond to helping their citizens.

At least the "press" is now telling us about the presidents of these countries and their picadilloes in the drug wars. The more focus on the leaders of these countries then the better chances of creating jobs in those countries. No one likes "bad publicity" on governments so that focus can help force a more responsible approach to their governments.


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