Thousands of people marched down Dolores Street on Saturday morning from Dolores Park to Civic Center to protest the Trump Administration’s hardline immigration policies and to demand that he reunite the children and families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
At present, 2,000 children remain separated from their families, despite a federal judge’s order on Tuesday that those children be reunited with their families within 30 days.
“We are people, we are not illegal!” some chanted, as others carried signs denouncing President Donald Trump and the agency in charge of enforcing his border policies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. By around 11:30 a.m. the army of protesters, marching to the beat of drums, flowed down Market Street and congregated at Civic Center in front of City Hall.
Many marched because they or their parents had immigrated to the United States. “It’s affected generations of my family,” said Graciela, 25. “The government is inculcating fear so people can’t raise their voices against it.”
She said when she was nine and living in Chicago, she had to run from her home in the middle of the night out of fear of deportation. “So I know what those kids are feeling,” she said.
Corina Aguilar, 28, said her mother had been undocumented for a long time. “When I was a kid, she had to make sure I had someone to watch over me in case she was deported,” Aguillar said. “The fact that this could have happened to me is why I’m here.”
“It’s important to show my son that not everything is like how it is portrayed in school,” said Brenda Rodrigues, who marched with her 5-year-old son. “Kids his age are being separated.”
She said her mother came to San Francisco in the 1980s because it was a sanctuary city. “That was us in the ’80s,” she said referring to those crossing the border nowadays.
“The kids don’t have a voice, so we need to be the ones asking for justice for them,” said Patricia Ruiz-Ortega, who was marching with her 19-year-old daughter. “I’m an immigrant and I have kids. I can relate to the immigrant families.”
Her daughter, Paty, was grateful for her mother’s decision to come to the United States. “If she hadn’t made a decision to start a family here, I don’t know where I’d be today,” she said.
“I have a daughter and a family, so this is important,” said 33-year-old Desiree Swanson. “A lot of my family is from Mexico, so it affects me personally.”
She marched alongside her partner and young child. She thought about the effects on the children who remain separated from their parents. “This is something that’s going to affect them for the rest of their lives,” she said.
The march had personal resonance for 29-year-old Nadia, whose parents came from the Philippines to seek a better life. “I’m also married to a previously undocumented immigrant,” she said. “This could have easily been him.”
“My mom is an immigrant, and because of her, I’m provided with opportunities today,” said Xela Vargas. She said, when her mother was six, she came to the United States from Mexico. “Her finding citizenship was super hard,” she said.
“Whatever I can do to help the children being separated at the border is important to me,” she added.