Why These Families Marched in Solidarity with Those Separated at the Border

Mary Foreman (left) with her Daughter Sarah Foreman (middle right) and her children Cal Calloway (9) (middle left) and Benji Calloway (6) (left).
Photo: Justin T. Gellerson

As of earlier this week, 2,047 children who were separated from their parents at the U.S. border had not yet been reunited with their families. The separations were triggered when the Trump administration, in April, began to increase the amount of immigrants prosecuted when entering the country under a new "zero tolerance" policy. The move has sparked intense criticism and concern from both Democrats and Republicans alike.

Despite a recent presidential executive order to end family separations at the border, many children remain on their own, spread out in shelters across the U.S. A federal court filing indicates that even if families are reunited, they are likely be detained together rather than be released.

VIDEO: Thousands Rally Across the U.S. to Reunite Immigrant Families

Today, hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. came out to protest the separation of families, chanting that "Families Belong Together." Those who showed up in Washington, D.C. walked from the White House to the Department of Justice in solidarity with the families affected. InStyle spoke with some of them about why it was important to show up.

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Karen Vaughn with her 3-year-old daughter Keilyn from Waco, Texas

Karen Vaughn with her 3-year-old daughter Keilyn from Waco, Texas
Justin T. Gellerson

Karen Vaughn, a pediatrician, traveled from Waco, Texas with her three-year-old daughter Keilyn. "It affects me as a mother," she says of the separations. "I can't imagine what it would be like to have someone rip my child away from me, especially knowing these people have come here seeking asylum, asking us for help. I'm a Christian, and, for me, what's happening at the border is the opposite of what Jesus would do."

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Sarah Stocco, with her son Griffin, 9, and Maggie, 6, from Saint Paul, MN

Sarah Stocco, with her son Griffin, 9, and Maggie, 6, from Saint Paul, MN
Justin T. Gellerson

Sarah is visiting from St. Paul, Minnesota with her children: "I think it's important for my kids to understand their place in our country and be able to protest. We've been talking a lot about how this is the capital city, and how it was important we come today and raise our voices. That's the least we can do."

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Jaycee and Billy with their son Alden, 3, from Washington, D.C.

Jaycee and Billy with their son Alden, 3, from Washington, D.C.
Justin T. Gellerson

"Tearing children away from their parents is maybe one of the most morally despicable things I can imagine a country doing," says Billy.

"It's heartbreaking," adds Jaycee about the coverage of family separation. "We can't watch it, we can't listen to it. It tears your heart out." Jaycee says that the policy changes she'd like to see come out of the protests include, "complete stoppage of family separation, reunification of all children, and non-incarceration of minors. That would be a start."

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Colleen holding her daughter Cassie

Colleen holding her daughter Cassie
Justin T. Gellerson

Colleen came with her daughter, Cassie to the rally. "We go to a lot of marches. I want her to know that she was here with me in the park and we did the right thing," she says.

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Daisy Rickard with her 4-year-old daughter Mila

Daisy Rickard with her 4-year-old daughter Mila
Justin T. Gellerson

"Our parents came here from Mexico as immigrants, and I can't imagine being separated from my mother," says Daisy, who came with her cousin Vivian and their daughters. "I just found out two or three months ago that my mom came here [before I was born]. I always felt a little bit separated from the issue. Now that I know the whole story, it hits so close to home."

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Esteban Kelly (right) and Stephen Holt (left) with their daughters Anaïs, 3, (upper frame) and Saskia, 7, (ground) from Philadelphia, PA

Esteban Kelly (right) and Stephen Holt (left) with their daughters Anaïs, 3, (upper frame) and Saskia, 7, (ground) from Philadelphia, PA
Justin T. Gellerson

"I think it's important to demonstrate as a parent—with my kids and for my kids—what it looks like to show solidarity with people all over the world, especially people experiencing the brunt of all the policies of an oppressive regime," says Esteban. "Because they're black girls...my kids are more deeply affected by issues that are abstract for others. For them, it's very real, and they see it in their lives and their communities."

"This is a way for [our daughters] to practice bravery and practice speaking up," adds Stephen. "They were scared to see the White House and the police...but when we're together we can raise our voice."

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Amanda Beisel (right) with daughter, Maxine Wiliams (middle right), husband James Williams (middle left), and son Emmet Williams (left)

Amanda Beisel (right) with daughter, Maxine Wiliams (middle right), husband James Williams (middle left), and son Emmet Williams (left)
Justin T. Gellerson

"It was important for us to show up en masse, to show that it's not okay with us, and it's not okay with the vast majority of the country," says Beisel of the child separation policies.

She and her family traveled from outside of New York City, and her daughter Maxine says she values living in a community where families hail from all over the world: "We're privileged to live in a diverse town, where we hear stories that are maybe not like our own. It helps us recognize our privilege."

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Huda Ayub (middle) and her two sisters, Leila (left) and Roya (right), and daughters Dalia (left middle) and Sidra (right middle)

Huda Ayub (middle) and her two sisters, Leila (left) and Roya (right), and daughters Dalia (left middle) and Sidra (right middle)
Justin T. Gellerson

"We are children of immigrants. My parents are from Afghanistan and fled a war. We see the reasons why people would want to come to the United States and start a new life, especially seeking asylum," says Huda, who brought her daughters Dalia, 15 months, and Sidra, six. "Now that I have children, I can't imagine being separated from them, not knowing where they were, and what was happening to them."

"The narrative is not controlled by people who have experienced these things themselves," adds Huda's sister Leila.

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Reverend Ciara Simonson with her 5-year-old daughter Victoria and 2-year-old son Immanuel

Reverend Ciara Simonson with her 5-year-old daughter Victoria and 2-year-old son Immanuel
Justin T. Gellerson

Ciara Simonson is the pastor of Springfield Christian Church in Virginia, and many members of her congregation are Hispanic. "It's really disheartening that from the start, parents that are trying to create a better lives for their children and willing to take the risk find themselves in a situation that is even more dangerous and traumatic. We're a family and we're together," Simonson says of her and her children, who came to the march with her. "This is what families should look like...If you don't know love, you can't show love, and if you don't know care, you can't show care."

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Jade Merrithew with her children Madison, 7, (middle), Grant, 5, (right), and Sydney, 4, (sitting)

Jade Merrithew with her children Madison, 7, (middle), Grant, 5, (right), and Sydney, 4, (sitting)
Justin T. Gellerson

Jade Merrithew says that when she tried to explain the child separation policies to her kids, she told them that "people came here for help, but they didn't fill out the right papers. Instead of trying to help them as a family, the government decided to separate kids from their parents."

"I asked them how they would feel if they were separated from us," she adds, "and that really scared them. I think it was important for them to come out and see that there's good in the world. It was important for us to show them we're not alone in this fight."

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Catherine Bernard (left) with her husband, Josh, and daughter Iris

Catherine Bernard (left) with her husband, Josh, and daughter Iris
Justin T. Gellerson

Catherine Bernard, an immigration lawyer based in D.C., came with her daughter Iris and husband Josh: "I know these people—I know people who have come across with their kids and been separated from their kids. They just want what we all want, which is to keep their families safe and keep their children safe. If people are making this treacherous journey with their children, it's because the danger of the journey is better than what they face at home."

Catherine says she tries to teach her daughter that, "everyone deserves dignity. We're all responsible for caring for the most vulnerable among us."

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