Rexburg will have its own event alongside nationwide protests in response to the Trump administration policy of separating families at the U.S.-Mexican Border on June 14.
The group responsible for these protests is Families Belong Together. Members of the group have organized protests from Washington, D.C., to Oregon, California, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Idaho and other locations across the nation.
According to multiple protest event pages on Facebook, thousands will gather at these protests with an underlying message: immigrant families belong together.
According to the Families Belong Together webpage, they are protesting the policy set by the Trump administration as cruel, inhumane and unjustified.
According to the website, “To separate immigrant families, victims of violence, hunger and poverty, is to re-violate them. Children as young as 18 months are torn from their mother’s arms by the U.S. government. This is violent abuse. These families are victimized again by the government to which they turn for help. Families Belong Together opposes the inhumane policies of the Trump Administration, Border Patrol, and I.C.E. and calls for immediate reform.”
The event in Rexburg will be held at Porter Park from 6 to 8 p.m., according to the Rexburg event page. The event will include live music and dance numbers at the Porter Park Beehive Pavilion. There will also be a note for those in attendance to sign that will be sent to Idaho senators asking them to take a stance against separating children from their parents.
Annalisa Wiggins, the organizer for the event, found out about Families Belong Together through social media and wanted to see if there would be an event close to Rexburg. The only protests happening were hours away so she, along with a few friends and neighbors, organized the event for Rexburg.
With their combined effort they were able to get a permit to hold the event and organize it in a short amount of time.
“This is a family event more than a protest,” Wiggins said. “We won’t be marching, just gathering together in front of Beehive Pavilion. This is a safe family event.”
Wiggins said she remembers being stunned when the policy change took place earlier this year.
“Are we going to do this?” she said. “This isn’t who we are.”
Wiggins said she knew she was not the only one who was stunned by the news of families being separated at the border. She could not manage being separated from her children and her children being alone.
“My son had a nightmare not too long ago and I was able to comfort him,” Wiggins said. “The parents being separated at the border can’t comfort their children. Their children are all alone.”
Wiggins said she is fully aware that a discussion about immigration must take place in this country and that some people in Rexburg see nothing wrong with this new policy.
“We can debate, just not traumatize,” she said. “We don’t need to punish small children.”
Wiggins said the event has two messages. The first is to show that not everyone supports the policy of separating families at the border. The second is to tell the Latin Americans that they are welcome here.
“Some Latinos I’ve talked to felt a backlash from the 2016 election,” she said. “They felt worried about what would come next and felt like they didn’t belong here. That they needed to hide. We want them to tell them, ‘This is your home too. You’re welcome here, everyone is welcomed here.'”
The event has an open invite for any person or group interested in performing at the event. For those interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org.