Some 60 people gathered near the Melville offices of New York’s two U.S. senators on Tuesday to denounce the Trump administration policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, calling it shameless and un-American.
“I don’t know how every single Americans’ heart is not breaking,” Halle Brenner-Perles, one of the organizers, shouted into a megaphone as cars whizzed by on Pinelawn Road.
“This has to end immediately,” said the East Northport resident. “These are kids we are talking about.”
Organizers of the rally, however, thanked Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, for backing bills calling for an end to the separation policy.
Another organizer, Dr. Eve Krief, a pediatrician from Centerport, told the crowd, “It doesn’t take a pediatrician to know that taking children away from their parents is wrong.”
Referring to Trump’s assertions that the separation policy is due to laws passed by Democrats, she said, “Stop the lies now. This is your policy. . . . You can end it any time you want.”
“If we are going to have the Statute of Liberty standing in our harbor in this country, we might as well tear it down right now,” she said. “The words on the Statue of Liberty say that we welcome the huddled masses . . . yearning to breathe free. But right now we are having government-sanctioned child abuse.”
The crowd included mothers carrying their infant children, retired teachers, rabbis and a minister. Some carried signs saying “Separating Kids from Their Families is Immoral and Un-American,” “Stop Lying. Stop Separating Families” and “Fight Ignorance, Not Immigrants.”
More than 2,300 children have been separated at the border from their parents over the past two months as part of a “zero tolerance” policy, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other top officials have given several explanations for the policy, saying the government is simply enforcing the law, that adults crossing the border illegally are putting their children in danger, and that the policy is backed by biblical passages about obeying the laws of governments.
“What is being said in the media, that these are Christian principles, is false,” the Rev. Tamara Razzano of the First Presbyterian Church in upstate Little Falls told the crowd.
“There is nothing, nothing in the New Testament that says this is what we are supposed to be doing,” she said. “We are actually told to do the exact opposite. Love your neighbor as yourself . . . if someone came up and ripped your child from you, that is not loving.”
Rabbi Michael Mishkin of Temple Beth Israel in Port Washington said, “This is not about politics. We can disagree on issues. This is a moral issue and it’s about the destruction of the soul of our country. This policy must change.”
Robin Doherty, 32, who recently became a mother, said she drove to the rally from her home in Manhattan. She said when she heard about the separated children, “It just hit me. My heart literally ached.”