Border protest registered in Red Lodge

By Eleanor Guerrero
Thursday, June 21, 2018

Photo By Eleanor Guerrero

(Left to right) Speakers Elli Elliot, Jael Kampfe (foreground) and Tusweca Mendoza lead a group of local Red Lodge citizens in protesting the current federal policy of separation of parents from children at the southern U.S. border.

Although the U.S. Border with Mexico may be far away from Montana, like a growing number of Americans, the issues are hitting home. A group of about twenty local citizens gathered at Lions Park in Red Lodge on Thursday, June 14, to declare their opposition to the U.S. Government separating parents from children at the border. The gathering was part of a nationwide day of action called ‘Families Belong Together / Familias Unidas, No Divididas.’  

Martha Young said, “I don’t know the answer. The violence in Central America is real.” She feels it is important to make a difference, for a community to help federal employees feel “empowered to make a choice and to say to their boss, ‘No! This is immoral.’”

It was noted that many non-violators with children who have the right to present themselves at the point of border entry to apply for political asylum were also being separated. For those coming over the border for the first time without an asylum request or other permission, if you do not pass through a designated border inspection point or port of entry, it is a criminal misdemeanor. No prior administration has enforced such a border policy of separation.

Elli Elliot, of Red Lodge, who organized the protest along with local group Call to Action said, “This is a tipping point. If we tolerate people taking a nursing baby away from his mother-who does that?”

A young Oglala Sioux man, Tusweca Mendoza said, “This is wrong. It’s a tool for genocide. Child genocide happening now.”

Elliot said there is a bill for stopping the practice of separating parents from their children which is administration policy, not law. “There are 37 co-sponsors.” It is a bipartisan bill. She noted, “Neither of our senators are on that list.”

She observed that the recent Southern Baptist Convention, a conservative evangelical organization, has come out against the policy, as well as international law, and the Human Rights division of the United Nations.

According to the New York Times, “Some of the religious leaders are the same evangelicals and Roman Catholics who helped President Trump to build his base and who have otherwise applauded his moves to limit abortion and champion the rights of religious believers.

The Rev. Franklin Graham, a son of the famed evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham and an outspoken defender  of President Trump, said in an interview  on Tuesday on the Christian Broadcasting Network, “I think it’s disgraceful, it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit.”

Over 2,000 children have been separated, some as young as infants, so their mother could be arrested. There are facilities around the country from New Jersey to Texas being set up to house the children and the number housed is expected to grow tremendously. According to one U.S. Representative, Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) who viewed a tent facility on Sunday, June 17, although local and federal officials have made inquiries, they have been unable to confirm that the system used locally to identify the children and parent will be a national system continued as the children are sent far away. They cannot assure the parents they will be able to locate their children afterwards.

Elliot said, "This is a moment of crisis and decision.”

Update: A bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to stop the policy, S3036, the Keep Families Together Act. Senator John Tester is one of the 48 co-sponsors. Another national action is planned for June 30. On Wednesday, June 20, President Trump signed an Executive Order canceling separation policy.

Upcoming Events

  • Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Monday, November 19, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 22, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, November 22, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

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P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

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