Approximately 270 people gathered on Saturday in front of the Island County Veterans Memorial Plaza in Coupeville to protest the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
Speakers admonished the treatment of migrants at the border and the separation of families.
“This isn’t just. It isn’t right, and it isn’t normal,” said Sandra Chitacapa, an Oak Harbor resident who came from Ecuador as a child.
Clad in traditional dress and carrying her 5-month-old son, Chitacapa held a sign that read “Familias Merecen Estar Juntas,” which in Spanish means families belong together.
Chitacapa said she came to the rally to tell her father’s story. He traveled to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant for work and eventually became a citizen.
“He is a good hard-working man,” she said. “… Not all illegals that come here are bad people.”
She said she felt the impression many Americans have about illegal immigrants is that they are “bad people” who come for free things or because they are criminals.
She said many of them are like her father and not rapists or gang members. Chitacapa said she credits her father for her opportunity to not only grow up in this country, but serve it as a member of the Navy.
The local rally was organized by Indivisible Whidbey and joined more than 700 others like it across the nation.
There are approximately 200 immigrants detained in Washington state and 174 are women, according to a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson against the practice. The lawsuit states that of those women, a third are mothers who have been separated from their children.
Trump signed an executive order on June 20 ending the practice of separating children from their parents, but the order maintained the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally.
Indivisible Whidbey member and one of the organizers Larry Behrendt spoke to the crowd in Coupeville not only about the rights for immigrants but also for members of the LGBTQ community and people of color. He said demonstrations and actions like the rally are how rights for those groups can be protected.
“We will fight peacefully, lawfully and respectfully,” he said. “But we can’t do it quietly. We have a noisy resistance.”
One of the organizers, Linda Wehrman, wore a green shirt that said “I really do care.”
Wehrman urged those present to vote and to encourage underrepresented communities, such as young people, people of color and low-income people to do so as well. Signs in the crowd read “We will remember in November.”
Dave Paul, candidate for state House of Representatives running against Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Camano Island, told the crowd he is tired of “divisive politics.”
“I really thank you for standing up for families and our communities,” he said.
The crowd chanted sayings like “Act up. Fight back. Democracy is under attack,” and marched on Main Street.
“With the rain and all, people still felt that it was so important to come out and be a little bit cold and wet for a couple hours,” said Wehrman. “It was worth it.”