Story by A.J. Arias
A crowd of over 200 people marched through the Village of Warwick on Sat., Jun. 30 chanting “Familias Unidas, No Dividas” (Families United not Divided) and “Sí se Puede” (Yes we can) as part of the “Families Belong Together” march. The event, initiated by Caitlin Bennett, called for the reunification of all children who have been separated from their parents and guardians at the US/Mexican border, as well as asking for a clear and detailed plan to carry out the reunification.
When asked what inspired her to initiate the event, Bennett said it was her two-year-old son. Bennett got emotional when she thought of the possibility of losing her son and this brought her to Safe Space America to seek help to make the event happen.
Bennett and the Madero family led the marchers through the Village streets. Alicia Madero said that as a mother and a person of Mexican descent, the issue of children being separated at the border from their families due to illegal immigration hit very close to her heart. She doesn’t want any family to ever be separated.
The crowd met on the lawn of the Old School Baptist Meeting House and walked to Stanley-Deming Park, holding signs and chanting. At the park, multiple speakers took to the microphone to address the crowd. Patricia McMillan introduced each of the speakers.
Oscar Figueroa, a man of Mexican descent, spoke to the crowd in Spanish and Pastor Rolfi Elivo, of the Warwick Reformed Church, served as translator. Figueroa spoke about his journey to the US and explained to the crowd what Warwick means to him.
Seven-year-old Alfredo Madero and 10-year-old Fernando Madero offered insight from a child’s point of view, holding up a sign that said, “The only wall I support in Mexico,” which featured a picture of Mexican soccer player and goalie Guillermo Ochoa.
Sonia Ayala, a councilwoman from Blooming Grove, NY and the Chair of the Latina Democratic Committee of Orange County, spoke in both English and Spanish about the issue and the need for a solution.
Activist and actor James Cromwell spoke about how the issue goes beyond party lines.
Finally, Ray Boswell, Danielle Barbour, Judy Battista, and several candidates running for political office in the Warwick area spoke.
The event coincided with demonstrations across the US and members of the Planning Board for this local event included: Danielle Barbour, the founder of Safe Space America; Judy Battista, Caitlin Bennett, Hannah Maxwell, Patricia McMillan, and Lauren Sadler.