Families Belong Together Sister Rally Takes Place in Charlottesville

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Protesters outside of the Albemarle County Office Building Protesters outside of the Albemarle County Office Building
Baby joining in the protest Baby joining in the protest

In Charlottesville, hundreds of people gathered at the Albemarle County Office Building to stand in solidarity with immigrant families.

Organizers say that the goal of today's "Families Belong Together" sister rally was to remind people this country was built by immigrants.

They're demanding the two thousand children who are still separated from their parents after crossing the US-Mexico border be reunited.

Hundreds of people in Charlottesville showed their support for immigrant families and their disgust at policies that are detaining and separating them.  

Charlottesville resident, Paola Sanchez Valdez said, "Immigrants have lived in fear for a long time" 

Valdez is an immigrant, and was undocumented for most of her life.  

"I'm really happy people are now empathizing and going out on the streets for immigrants,” Valdez said. “But this isn't new. Families have been separated for before the Trump presidency."

She and other protestors say inhumane treatment of immigrant children and families is a problem at the national level.

Anatolia Hodson, a field organizer for NextGen Virginia in Charlottesville, said, "Marginalized people have been under constant attack from the trump administration."

But they add it's also happening in Central Virginia.

Co-convener of the Charlottesville Area Immigrant Resource and Advocacy Coalition, Priscilla Mendenhall said, "Undocumented folks in our community who are so afraid are our neighbors."

The Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center near Staunton is currently being accused of harassing and abusing immigrant children. 

Hodson said, "I am from Staunton. I was raised there. So it hits kind of close to home for me to hear that in a space where I never expected to hear those things happen."

Rally organizers say the separation of children and families isn't just a partisan problem.

Ken Horne, a member of Indivisible Charlottesville said, "It is about humanity and dignity"

While protestors are demanding the government reunite the thousands of children and parents, they say it has imprisoned, they don't want the fight to end after the rally.

Valdez said, "I think it's really important for people to support those groups, those vulnerable groups right now, and I think the community is the only way we're going to make systemic change in this broken immigration system we live in."

Organizers with NextGen Virginia also helped register people to vote at today's rally. 

The organization has invested $2,000,000 in organizing and registering close to four thousand young Virginians ahead of midterm elections this November. 

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