For parents and families at Vogel Plaza concerned about children at the border, putting themselves in the shoes of immigrant families was as easy as looking at the youngsters in their arms.
Kristy Newell of Jacksonville was among the estimated 75 demonstrators who gathered in downtown Medford to voice concerns about a new zero-tolerance policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, which according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection has resulted in more than 650 children being separated from their parents.
With her 1-year-old son, Lumin, cradled in one arm and a “Where are my parents?” sign in the other, Newell was among close to a dozen families who made their concern a family affair.
Newell, who works as a midwife, said she couldn’t imagine being separated from her child.
“My heart is just breaking for these families and these children,” Newell said.
Unite Oregon’s “Where are the Children” rally drew a crowd upward of 50 and believed to have reached 75 in downtown Medford Thursday afternoon, according to Virginia Camberos, Unite Oregon’s regional director.
Phoenix resident Isabella Tibbetts said she and her sister were born in Ecuador, though Tibbetts said she feels fortunate to have been adopted.
“It could’ve easily been me or my sister on the other side,” Tibbetts said.
Holding a sign in one arm and her toddler niece Isabel in another, Tibbetts said she, too, couldn’t imagine being separated from the child.
Helping the child with a lollipop falling to pieces, Tibbetts said the demonstration was Isabel’s fifth.
“It’s important to me to show her that it’s OK to stand up and voice your opinion,” Tibbetts said. “This little one’s the future.”
The demonstration drew others from Oregon District 2 Indivisible, such as Kristin Moline, who held a sign that said, “End Family Separation.”
“It doesn’t seem like the country I’ve known,” Moline said about the immigration policy. “Or what it should be.”
Moline said she disagrees with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders “using religion and law about this issue in the same sentence.”
Sanders, for example, was quoted at a White House briefing Thursday as saying, “I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law.” Sessions cited Romans 13 to defend his border policy while speaking Thursday in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“We were founded on freedom of religion,” Moline said.
Moline said the local Indivisible chapter, known after the election for regular rallies downtown, is presently channeling its energy into the midterm election.
“Our efforts are way more focused on getting out the vote,” Moline said. “This is how things will change.”
Michelle Blum Atkinson, Democrat candidate for State House District 6, was among demonstrators at the rally and said she was encouraged by the turnout.
“This isn’t so much a political issue than it is about protecting children,” Blum Atkinson said.
Participants chanted “Families belong together,” and “We are all immigrants.”