Along with many other cities around the country, a Families Belong Together Rally was held in Austin on June 30th. Our local rally took place on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol. The event was organized by the Children’s Defense Fund-Texas and sponsored by over 50 organizations, ranging from the Texas State Teacher’s Organization to Catholic Charities of Central Texas to the Sierra Club.
The emcees were Michelle Castillo from the Children’s Defense Fund-Texas and Pedro Escalera, a Latino 102.7 DJ. They introduced local dignitaries, including Austin mayor Steve Adler, State Representative Donna Howard, and several City Council members. US Congressman Lloyd Doggett often attends these types of events, but they explained that he was speaking at the San Antonio rally.
Sulma Franco spoke about her experiences as an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala. Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, an immigration lawyer with American Gateways, described her frustration in trying to reunite children with their parents who are currently being held in detention centers.
Zenén Jaimes Pérez of the Texas Civil Rights Project encouraged the crowd to support organizations that are helping immigrants.
Afternoon temperatures were around 100°F, so the crowd tended to cluster in the shade, especially under the large live oaks that line the south walkway. Free bottled water was distributed and the emcees gave frequent reminders to stay hydrated. Two medical tents were set up near the Capitol building.
The rally was scheduled to last for three hours, but due to the extreme heat, Bill and I only stayed for about 90 minutes. I’ve seen crowd estimates that range between 8,000 and 15,000. I think the lower number is probably more accurate. That’s not as big as January’s Women’s March, but still makes a statement that many Texans really do care about our country’s current immigration policies.
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