DALLAS -- Another grassroots movement hit the pavement around Dallas City Hall on Saturday as about 3,000 people took part in one of more than 700 Keep Families Together rallies across the country. Their target: President Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy which has separated and incarcerated families that illegally crossed the border--even if they're trying to legally apply for asylum.
"Everybody realizes that the policy was broken before this," said event organizer Michelle Wentz, "and so maybe, perhaps, people can come together and start a conversation and start to unify the two [political] parties. Other than that, we just want [this] barbaric policy to stop."
"This isn't about red vs. blue, Democrat vs. Republican; this is right vs. wrong," agreed Derek Kester, who came from Keller with his two young children to protest.
"This isn't a cry for open borders, this is a cry for human rights and to stop human rights violations," added Dallasite Andrea Mora, who brought her nine- and 11-year-old brothers to show them the importance of standing up for what they believe is right.
Even the one counter-protester we saw agreed families should not be separated after detainment.
Crossing the border illegally is only a federal misdemeanor, with punishment for a first-time offense being up to six months in jail and/or a fine up to $250. To put that in perspective, other federal misdemeanors include using Smokey the Bear's likeness without permission from the federal government, which can also get you up to six months behind bars, and making dentures without a dentistry license, which could lock you up for a year! So in the eyes of the law, illegally crossing the border is not as serious as you might think--but the damage caused by forcefully separating families can be very serious.
"For children and adults, these events are toxic stress," explained trauma therapist Jenifer Wolf William. "Toxic stress has been linked by decades of research to lifelong risk for PTSD, lifelong risk for depression, and lifelong risk for medical problems like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease."
In addition to the hefty emotional cost, separating families has a hefty financial cost, too. But the bottom line is simple, as put by Kester's daughter, Faith:
"Mothers and fathers will take better care of their sons and daughters than other people will."
Kids may say the darndest things, but that sure ain't one of 'em!