News Local/State

Rallies In Illinois Urge ‘Families Belong Together’


Rallies in Springfield June 1st, 2018 Mary Hansen/ NPR Illinois

Rallies across the country, including Illinois, will take place Saturday. Attendees will call for the reunification of families separated at the US-Mexico border.

Linda Rivas is an attorney and executive director for Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center located in El Paso, Texas. She says two of the clients she's worked with have children who were separated and put in Chicago shelters. She says the mothers were confused about what that even meant. One asked if Chicago was the name of a shelter or a person. "That's the level of confusion," said Rivas.

Rivas will speak in Springfield at the rally planned near the Old State Capitol at 11 am. The event is one of several across the country organized under the banner of "Families Belong Together." Groups including MoveOn and the American Civil Liberties Union are sponsoring the demonstrations

As to why she decided on Illinois out of all the rallies nationwide to attend, she said, "I think it's really important to bring some of the voices from the border into the interior." Rivas said while President Trump has walked back the "zero tolerance policy" — there need to be clearer plans in place for families to find each other. Similar rallies are also planned in Macomb, Champaign, and Chicago.

While Rivas said she believes the shelters in Chicago are doing the best job they can there to care for separated children, she prefers alternatives to detention and believes there are more just and financially sound ways to deal with immigrants and asylum-seekers.

"I think migration is a human right. There are alternatives to detention, and these are not things people are speaking about," said Rivas. Illinois is one of 17 states to sue the Trump administration in hopes of reuniting families who were separated. 

In Champaign, a "Families Belong Together" march is scheduled to start Saturday at 1 p.m., with picketing at the corner of Green and Neil Streets, followed by a march northwards along Neil Street. Local organizers include Bending the Arc:Champaign-Urbana, the Champaign County ACLU, CUP (Champaign-Urbana Progressives) and C-U Indivisible.

UPDATE: This artcle was revised to include information about an event in Champaign. - JM 6/29/18