On Saturday morning in 90-degree heat, about 1,000 protesters marched early half a mile from ICE to the Liberty Bell in Downtown Bakersfield.
This was just one of 628 ‘Families Belong Together’ protests happening around the world. From kids, families, citizens, and immigrants, many showed up in white, the color of solidarity chosen for the event.
“You might not see the same kind of numbers (in Bakersfield as other places), but I’m actually very heartened by the number of people who showed up today,” said Crystal Bolte, a speaker at the march. “I think it shows that this isn’t just a partisan issue. This is a morality issue.”
The protest was in response to the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy announced in April. Conflicting reports show the policy has detained anywhere from 2,000 to 12,000 immigrant children from their families while crossing the border illegally.
In the past two weeks, President Trump signed an executive order ending the family separation, and a federal judge in California gave immigration authorities 30 days to reunite families. Despite these orders, protesters say the Trump administration has yet to take action to do so.
“Here locally, it’s about coming together as a community. We had DACA recipients, farm workers were here, we also had nurses,” said Marichel Mejia, the emcee at the protest.
Cassidy Solis of Bakersfield brought her four-year-old daughter to the event.
“I want to teach my daughter that families are sacred no matter where they’re from, and they deserve our respect and protection,” Solis said,
The protest brought to mind recent immigration cases in Kern County. In March, a Delano farmworking couple died while fleeing ICE, leaving six children behind. Last month, BC student Jose Bello was detained for allegedly being undocumented.