Indianapolis, IN -As of Oct. 27, the Tornillo shelter still housed more than 1,600 children from ages 12 to 17, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, the El Paso Times reported last month. Immigration advocates told the newspaper the shelter was supposed to be temporary, but the center has been expanded three times since June.
Monday’s rally precedes the “Let Our Families Go” caravan trip that a group of faith leaders and lay people in Indiana, Michigan and other states plan to take to Tornillo, making stops in St. Louis, Tulsa and Dallas before traveling to the town on Thursday.
Named before the politicized migrant caravan controversy, Rabbi Dennis Sasso, of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, described it as “a pilgrimage, (being “on the move).”
“This specific issue can’t happen on our watch,” Krichiver told IndyStar. “This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue.”
For Rochelle Cohen, 78, who has lived in Indianapolis for decades, the issue is personal. Cohen told IndyStar her parents emigrated to the U.S. from Europe before WWII. Had they stayed, they might have died where they were, she said.
“The people who are coming, they have the same desire for a life,” she said. “Those families that have been separated, those children are going to carry that scar for the rest of their life.”
Karla Jay, 31, told IndyStar her parents brought her to the U.S. from Guatemala when she was 1 years old, and she can’t imagine them being separated from her, and not knowing when they would see her again.
Jay, of Faith in Indiana, a nonprofit that organized the rally, said the issue is not simply a matter of national security, but a matter of acknowledging the “humanity” of people crossing the border.
“We can still be safe and secure without being evil,” she said. “Unfortunately a lot of people are in fear, and we’re hurting a lot of people who are in need because of (a) fear that they are dangerous,” she said.
Another Guatemalan native, Maynor Clemente, 29, was among the speakers on Monday, detailing in Spanish (with a translator) how he came to the U.S. when he was 15, only to be cuffed, detained and — years later — separated from his own daughter, age 3, when agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement showed up at his door.
Clemente told congregants that his immigration issues are fortunately being resolved. But the hurt and confusion linger, as his daughter, now 11, “still doesn’t understand why we were separated for a time,” he said.
Whinston told a story of an immigrant mother he met in Michigan, who fled gang violence in Guatemala. When he asked her if she’d make the trek again knowing she’d risk being separated from her family, he was struck by her response.
“She said her children were likely going to die. But the policies put in place by our government were so horrendous, the idea of having her children ripped from her, that she preferred to take her chances in Guatemala,” he said. Whinston will be joining other faith leaders in the caravan.
Speakers reiterated a view of America as a country that has long welcomed immigrants, especially those seeking asylum. Imam Ahmed Alamine, of the Indianapolis Muslim Community Association, said there’s no “shame” in being a refugee.
“What is (shameful) is not to welcome these refugees and share with them the safety that they are looking for,” he said.
The trip to Tornillo on Thursday isn’t meant to be a panacea, Krichiver told IndyStar. The group’s chief aim is to raise “a moral voice at the national level.”
“It’s going to take us some time and effort and energy to solve this problem that has been created.”
November 12th, 2018 | Indianapolis Star | Link to Article