Families Belong Together: Humboldt County Latinx Community Holds Powerful Demonstration

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Eureka, CA–Over a thousand Humboldt County residents gathered in Eureka yesterday morning to protest the Trump administrations policy of detaining and separating migrant children from their parents.

Similar protest happened in various cities across the U.S, including Washington, D.C, where influential celebrity guest such as Alicia Keys and America Ferrara delivered speeches.

Although no celebrity guest were present in Eureka, powerful voices from the Latinx community rang from the loudspeaker in front of Humboldt’s Bay. They shared personal experiences and illustrated the pain and resilience of a people who cross borders seeking refuge and better futures for their families.

“Today I came to demonstrate that migrants are brave. We have such great dignity that it crosses all boundaries and despite our sadness, we are still fighting to reunite our families until the detention centers disappear,” a member of Centro Del Pueblo stated passionately, pausing a moment to let a Latinx woman translate in Spanish.

The small rally that happened before the march showed the solidarity and alliances that communities of color in Humboldt County are building upon, based on the intersectionality of the issues they face.

“Right across the water here they massacred the Wiyot people. Lets honor where we are at. This is the land of the Wiyot people. We are proud to stand in solidarity with the immigrant community who are being treated just as we were once treated,” Erik Rydberg said during his opening statement.

Renee Saucedo is a local organizer with Centro Del Pueblo, a grassroots organization that works with undocumented families. She shared insight on the issues and politics behind immigration. In the spirit of solidarity she wore a “Justice for Josiah” t-shirt as she stood on the platform addressing the crowd.

It will soon mark 15 months since Humboldt State University Student David Josiah Lawson was stabbed and killed at a house party in Arcata. There is still currently no one in custody for his death. After months of continuous public outcry from students of color and allies–along with vigils, protest and marches–Lawson’s mother recently entrusted Saucedo to lead community-only focus groups to strategize justice efforts in his case.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers, The Central Labor Council, The California Nurses Association as well as other groups and individuals were named as making the march possible. Songs, prayers and sage set the stage for the various speakers.

“We honor the guidance of all tribes–Hoopa, Yurok, Karuk–during this history of injustice of family separation. I came here to recognize in your presence, the possibility of a stronger alliance to protect our families, because the crying of the children is a migrant cry.”

“With you here, I believe they wont be able to separate us from this community anymore. Should something happen to me, I will continue to fight wherever I am. In the spirit of my immigrant sisters who will come after me. We will continue to cross the border because migration is apart of human experience.”

There has been national outcry from reports that migrant children were not only being separated from their parents but that over 1,500 children can not be accounted for.

The information was made public April 26 when Steven Wagner, the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families (ACF) for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), testified at a Homeland Security subcommittee oversight hearing. Wagner testified that HHS had been unable to reach over 1,500 immigrant children after ORR placed them with sponsors.

President Trump signed an executive order last week which will require that families be detained together in the custody of Homeland Security while their cases are being processed.

A representative from Congressman Jared Huffman’s local office also spoke at the rally condemning Trump’s policy and outlining the congressman’s efforts around the issue.

The sister of Claudia Portillo, a woman who lives in Humboldt County and was detained by ICE for seven months, also spoke at the rally.

She detailed the experience of her sister and the emotional and financial toil that it had on the family. She mentioned how her sister was arrested without due process and why every American beyond race, should care about the issues currently facing migrant communities. Many people in the local community recently donated to help their family travel to Claudia’s bond hearing.

“To me this is no longer just about race. Although our brothers and sisters of color are the target and are paying the harsh price, this goes beyond racism. This is about profit. And the question we have to ask ourselves is, who is profiting from mass incarceration? Who is making money off of our suffering?”

Slideshow Photos: Zev Smith-Danford

Slauson Girl is a South Central native who has a love for journalism, history and all things Hip-Hop. She holds a B.A in Critical Race & Gender Theory & a Minor in Journalism. Follow Me on IG @Slausongirl

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