NORRISTOWN – State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today led a Families Belong Together protest at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, PA. More than 300 people attended the event.
“It hit 102 degrees today, but nothing could stop us from coming together to demand that Trump stop separating families,” Leach said. “Mothers, fathers and children came out from all over Montgomery County to say with one voice that Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy is wrong. We will not stand by and watch him rip families apart and we will not let him divide us. There is no justification for ripping children from the arms of their mothers and fathers.”
Leach’s office organized the local Families Belong Together protest with Congregation Beth Or, Maternity Care Coalition in Norristown, ACLAMO Family Centers, Theatre Horizon, and Centro de Apoyo Comunitario. The Families Belong Together protest was held in conjunction with the national Families Belong Together rally in Washington D.C., and other local Families Belong Together protests organized throughout Pennsylvania.
Ashani Weeraratna, an immigrant from South Africa and a scientist at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, spoke about how difficult it was to leave behind her family in South Africa. Weeraratna came to America alone at the age of 17 dreaming of becoming a medical professional and a researcher.
“South Africa was riddled at the time with apartheid, and so I had to leave, knowing that someone like me could not achieve my goals there,” Weeraratna said. “I worked hard, I got my Ph. D., I became what I had wanted to become since I was 15 – a cancer researcher.”
“To any Republican watching this, I implore you: choose to be on the right side of history, and not on the slippery slope to repeating some of the greatest evils that we have seen in generations past,” Weeraratna continued. “I implore you to finally stand up against an Administration that chooses to ignore that America is truly great because she is a nation of immigrants. I implore you to help your Democratic friends and colleagues right this ship that is tilting so badly. But most of all I beg you, don’t be complacent, don’t be complicit, and please, don’t turn the American dream into an American nightmare.”
Rabbi Jason Bonder of Congregation Beth Or also spoke at the event.
“Today, we the people of these United States are telling the story of who we are through our words and through our actions. And that our story is a family story,” Bonder said. “We are a nation of mothers and brothers and sisters and fathers and children. We are a nation of children – children of our Creator – no matter how old we are. Let our story be one that says: families belong together.”
Adults and children from all over Montgomery County attended the event. Ernie Hadrick Jr., a member of the Executive Committee of the Norristown branch of the NAACP, attended this protest with other local NAACP members.
“It was great to see a diverse group of people come together for such an important cause,” Hadrick said. “We all feel that families need to stay together. I’m glad we could all show our support. The NAACP fully supports the effort to reunite the families that have been separated.”
- Rabbi Jason Bonder – Congregation Beth Or
- Cantor David Green – Congregation Beth Or
- State Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia)
- Ashani Weeraratna, Ph. D. – The Wistar Institute
- State Representative Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery)
- Gloria Robles-De La Luz – Maternity Care Coalition
Other local protests included one event in Bridgeport, PA, and an event in Philadelphia.