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'Vigil for Humanity' Opposing Family Separations to Be Held Outside of San Fernando Cathedral 

On Sunday, June 24, there will be a “Vigil for Humanity” in front of San Fernando Cathedral at 6 p.m. to express opposition toward the U.S. government’s systematic mistreatment of asylum seekers. The event, originally intended to protest the mass separation of immigrant families (a part of the ‘zero tolerance policy’), has not shifted focus in light of Trump’s Wednesday signing of an executive order which substitutes this practice of separation with communal family detention.

In a press release posted Wednesday, Grassroots Leadership, a national civil and human rights organization based in Austin, stated “the president’s order merely transforms a mass family separation crisis to a mass family incarceration crisis.”

When someone is seeking asylum, they are looking to enter a country without proper documentation, as a refugee, in an effort to escape a dangerous or threatening circumstance in their home country. The ‘zero tolerance policy' and its predecessors don’t technically make it illegal to seek asylum, this right is protected by a 1967 U.N. Protocol and the Refugee Act of 1980. However, the Trump administration's policy is just the latest iteration intentionally designed to make it enormously difficult for immigrants to do so. 

Untimely backlogged systems, the recent exclusion of those seeking asylum from domestic and gang violence, and the need for asylum seekers to present 'credible fear' of their native situations at initial ports of entry prove that immigration through our southern border is not an easy feat.

Vigil organizers and many others stress that this issue of incarceration is nothing new, and must be fought as ferociously as family separation. “The war on immigrants has been happening for over 15 years. Immigrants have been dehumanized and criminalized, and families have been separated and lives ruined due to mass deportation,” said event organizer Yon Hui Bell.

It is also important to note that Trump’s signing does not immediately affect the reported 2,342 children who have already been separated from their parents, and that there is no tangible governmental plan in place to reunite them. Organizations like RAICES, the largest immigration non-profit in Texas, are actively working to expedite the process.

On Tuesday, June 26 at 11 a.m., there will also be a rally hosted by SATX Indivisible in front of Senator Ted Cruz's San Antonio office with a group heading to Brownsville to deliver hygiene supplies, diapers and clothes to an organization working with the impacted community. More information on the event is available here.

The “Vigil for Humanity” invites “everyone from all faith, spiritual and philosophical traditions” to participate. You can also donate what you can to the bevy of organizations fighting for representation and freedom.
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