#KeepFamiliesTogether — a hashtag that has recently taken over social media platforms as people across the county rally against immigrant children being taken from their parents.
Locally, a protest took place in downtown Youngstown.
“This is important to do today, to send the government a message,” said rally organizer Kim Akins.
That message? Families belong together.
“Some of these children will never be reunited with their families,” Akins said.
People like Akins and other protesters spoke out on Saturday against recent policies that are ripping immigrant children away from their families, regardless of age.
The children are then put in housing tents while their parents are in jail for allegedly coming into this country illegally.
“The people that are coming here are asylum seekers. They’re running away from crime, they’re running from poverty. They didn’t come here to do anything illegal, they just want to live in the same way we all want to live. We want to be free and we want to be safe,” Akins said.
With emotions running high, the situation hits home for Youngstown State University Professor Alicia Prieto Langarica, who is an immigrant herself.
“It’s really hard as an immigrant. You consider yourself like a visitor in somebody else’s house. You don’t want to come to someone else’s house and tell them how to live their life,” she said.
Langarica is a permanent immigrant and the house she talks about is her’s now, too. She wants to speak for the people who can’t.
“They’re seeking asylum, the legal way of seeking asylum, which is you come and you get into the land and you say, ‘I need asylum.’ Then you’re saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to put you in a cage and take your kids out of you.’ Because we have been dehumanizing you, half of the population in this country are like, ‘Well they’re criminals so they clearly deserved that,'” Langarica said.
She feels the ICE raid in Salem was a perfect example of dehumanizing immigrants, saying a lot of rhetoric has been made that immigrants are taking jobs, which fueled the ICE raid in the first place.
“Maybe those taking our jobs is not a real thing because… I don’t see a lot of white people lining up there saying, ‘I want to do that job for like 12 hours and get paid $4 an hour,'” Langarica said.
She hopes today’s message will not only reach the people of Youngstown, but the people at the White House too.