Deisy Castro recalls the cold room she, her brother and mother stayed in when they were apprehended after coming to the United States. For hours, the family was terrified, not knowing where her father had been taken.
“I remember what I went through, and I can’t imagine being separated from both parents,” she says. “No one deserves to be treated that way.”
She wasn’t alone in speaking about the bad memories associated with the U.S. immigration practices.
When he was 8 years old, Aaron Ibarra, now 19, first encountered Immigration and Customs Enforcement after a 2 a.m. knock on the door resulted in his father being deported. “It wasn’t even the man they were looking for,” he says.
For many who gathered June 30 for the Families Belong Together rally outside of the Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas, it wasn’t just another protest on immigration policies. This was personal.
“Trump is attacking the dreams of families and children,” Castro told the crowd. “As a community, we most stop this.”
Las Vegas residents joined Nevadans in Reno and cities across the U.S. Saturday to speak out against the Trump administration’s immigration policies that have resulted in immigrant children being separated from their families and held in detention centers.
Their message was clear.
“If we don’t get no justice, they don’t get no peace,” said Jose Macias, an organizer for Make the Road Nevada, as he lead the crowd in several chants. “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcomed here.”
This isn’t the first time in recent days that Nevada activists gathered to condemn Trump immigration policies – many of the same organizations crowded the sidewalks outside of the Suncoast Hotel June 23 to protest President Trump, who was in Las Vegas to speak at the state GOP convention and campaign for Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller. And Monday, an appearance by Attorney General Jeff Sessions drew demonstrators in Reno.
Braving another hot Las Vegas day Saturday, hundreds filled in along Clark Avenue and sidewalks along Las Vegas Boulevard holding signs that said, “Asylum seekers are not criminals,” “Walls won’t work” and “Stop traumatizing kids.”
Among them were speakers from the faith community and the nonprofit sector, as well as Congresswoman Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, Democratic congressional candidates Steven Horsford and Susie Lee, and Assemblyman Nelson Araujo, D-Las Vegas, who is running for Secretary of State.
“This isn’t a political issue,” Araujo said. “This is a humanitarian issue.”
Recipients of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, commonly known as DACA, also discussed their experiences in this country.
That includes Castro, who is now 31 and a local special education teacher. While all are frustrated with how the community is treated, they also remain hopeful that events like this can make changes.
“We have worked too hard and been through so much to lose hope,” she says.
Most of the speakers focused on the policies that keep immigrants held in detention centers – regardless if they are housed as a family or separated. However, some of the presenters called for the abolition of ICE and even touched on the Supreme Court’s latest decision to uphold the administration’s travel ban on Muslim-majority countries.
Louisa Blue, executive Vice President of SEIU international, also reminded the crowd of the work immigrant communities do, especially in a service-based city like Las Vegas.
“This country was built on immigrant power,” she said. “Immigrants are working families. Without their work, this country cannot go.”
Protestors promised that these days of action will increase, if not intensify, leading up to the November election.
“Today, we protest” Blue said. “Tomorrow, we vote.”