Hundreds rally in Montpelier to protest Trump’s immigration policy

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Awave of opposition to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy arrived in Montpelier on Monday evening as hundreds of protesters rallied on the Statehouse lawn.

Human rights advocates say the administration’s policy, which has resulted in more than 2,300 immigrant children being separated from their parents, is “fundamentally cruel and inhumane.”

“Our humanity tells all of us that what has been happening for the last several weeks is simply wrong,” said the Rev. Joan Javier-Duval of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier.

Monday’s protest was organized by Rights & Democracy, Migrant Justice, ACLU Vermont and several other groups. It was the latest in a series of events aimed at resisting the president’s immigration agenda.

Early this month, members of those groups began gathering in front of a regional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Williston to bring attention to the family separation policy.

Migrant Justice
Migrant Justice and other human rights groups have protested the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy since it was announced. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

Since then, the opposition has turned into a nationwide public outcry. President Trump responded last week by signing an executive order to end the separations, but the administration still plans to detain immigrant families indefinitely as they await prosecution. Thousands of children remain separated from their parents.

Speakers in Montpelier on Monday acknowledged Trump’s reversal but said there was still work to do. Some used the event to draw attention to other government processes that lead to family separation, including deportation and mass incarceration.

“This crisis is not over until the administration proves that the policy has ended — which it has not proved yet — and that every single child has been reunited with his parents,” said Nico Amador, a community organizer for ACLU Vermont.

Repeating calls from a protest in Lyndonville on Friday, speakers at the Montpelier event pressed Gov. Phil Scott to take a stronger stance on federal immigration policy. Several groups have called for the governor to declare that no state funding will aid the enforcement of a “zero tolerance” policy.

“If we have to walk into his office and sit there until he signs something, we will do it,” said Amanda Garces, who helped organize Monday’s event.

“Families should be kept together,” Scott wrote in a statement last week affirming his opposition to the policy. “I call on the federal government to find the best path forward to keeping families together and ensuring humane and fair treatment of all, while securing our nation’s borders.”

Immigration rally
A rally against the Trump administration’s immigration policy brought hundreds of participants to the Statehouse. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

Other state officials have also spoken out. A joint resolution condemning the family separation policy passed Vermont’s House of Representatives on Friday in a vote of 106-17. The Senate concurred with the resolution Monday.

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan plans to join a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s actions, he announced Monday.

Vermont AG Donovan@VTAttorneyGen

Vermont will join the multi-state lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s unconstitutional family separation policy. This policy must end and all families must be reunited.

Advocacy groups plan to gather again this coming Saturday in Burlington, Brattleboro, Rutland and other locations around the state, joining a national network of protests taking place across the U.S.

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