A group of local activists are planning a rally Wednesday to protest the Trump administration’s short-lived policy of separating immigrant parents and their children at the border.

The small group of protesters, who are not backed or organized by any particular group, said they wanted to start a dialogue about the controversial practice and demand that those children who had been separated from their parents be reunited immediately.

In May, the Trump administration announced a “zero-tolerance” policy that called for all adults crossing the border illegally to be criminally prosecuted. This new policy caused more than 2,000 migrant children to be separated from their parents at the U.S. border.

President Donald Trump later signed an executive order halting the separation of immigrant families after outcry against the practice from both Democrats and Republicans. The group of activists said the idea for the July Fourth rally came after Lisa DeVries, who is helping to organize the protest, gave a sermon on the topic at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Victoria. Local Unitarian Universalists have been meeting at the Victoria Islamic Center after a car crash damaged their church in May. DeVries, 35, an associate professor of English at Victoria College, said she hoped she and her peers could start a conversation locally about the situation at the border.

“I thought, ‘This is happening in Texas,’” DeVries said. “Texans can’t stay silent about this.”

Ann Kapp, 59, said she was joining DeVries at the rally because she thought it was urgent that separated children and their parents be reunited as swiftly as possible.

“My main focus is about reuniting families,” Kapp said. “I’m very concerned as an educator about the impact on children. These separations are causing perhaps irreparable damage.”

The activists said they planned to meet on the sidewalk outside Spec’s at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Almost 20 people have said they would attend the rally on Facebook, but organizers say they think they’ll reach others with their message.

“I hope that we inspire Victorians to get involved in the political process,” DeVries said. “I also hope we inspire other people that might be thinking or feeling similarly about this crisis to let them know they’re not alone.”

DeVries said she was moved to organize the rally after realizing there were no local protests organized to demand family reunification.

Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at cmccarthy@vicad.com or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara.

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Health Reporter

Ciara McCarthy covers public health and health care for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. Questions, tips, or ideas? Please get in touch: cmccarthy@vicad.com or call 361-580-6597.

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