Rally organizer: Family separations at the border is a human rights issue.

Hannah Swayze • Jul 1, 2018 at 12:01 AM

An estimated 300 people swarmed into Founders park in 90-degree heat Saturday to raise their voices on a hot-button issue: immigration.

Community members from all walks of life called for people to act at the local Families Belong Together Rally in Founders Park. The rally was one of many around the nation joining in a call for an end of the practice of separating immigrating families at the U.S. borders.

"Obviously most of us are incredibly concerned about human rights, about children being separated from families, which is absolutely utterly wrong. I don't care how you slice it, this should not be a political issue. It's a human rights issue," said Ren Allen, one of the event's organizers.

Speaking at the event was Nathan Farnor, who is running for the Tennessee House of Representatives. He urged people to vote and to talk to their representatives and to get involved. Other speakers included Michelle Treece, a local activist, and Melissa Rojas, the child of two immigrants, who offered her voice to speak up for for the Latino community.

"We will no longer let you demonize our families, our friends, our parents or our co-workers. We have decided that no longer will you lock our families in cages," said Rojas, addressing the crowd.

But the speeches were not given alone. Nancy Flores, an immigrant herself, translated every statement into Spanish for those in the crowd who may not understand English.

Flores said it makes her thankful that she has her family around her, and that it's hard to see any family not being given the opportunity to be together, especially as a mom.

"It's really amazing to see that even in our little town in Johnson City you know we have so much support from people, and we have a lot of people to speak up for those who are afraid to speak up," Flores said.

While Tennessee is not a border state, those in attendance were encouraged to still do what they can to help immigrants here and far away, whether that's voting, educating themselves and those around them or calling their representatives.

"It's really easy to feel alone, to feel disenfranchised, and to feel like it's hopeless. So, I want these people to feel empowered, to speak to family, to speak to politicians," Allen said.

"We're concerned about immigrant rights, we're concerned about refugee rights, we’re concerned about our fellow humans, and we believe — I can't speak for everyone here — but I think I'm safe is saying that we believe that America is great because of its diversity, and because if its inclusion. and because of its ability to give hope, and if we can't be that, we're not great." 

Recommended for You

    Johnson City Press Videos