Protesters gathered in the sweltering heat Saturday in Huntington to denounce President Trump’s border policies separating children from parents.
Hundreds of religious leaders, doctors, social workers and others took to all four corners of the intersection of Route 110 and Jericho Turnpike to demand that the families be reunited. Some cited the history of immigration to the United States; others worried about the emotional damage done by the separations or fear for the children still separated from their families.
Some were immigrants themselves, including Karin and Harry Arlin of Huntington. She emigrated from Germany and Holland; he came from the former Czechoslovakia. He carried a sign reading Proud of My Country/Ashamed of My Government.
“These kids are lost,” she said. “We have to get the kids back to their parents.”
President Trump signed an order last week to house parents and children together when they were arrested at the border, but also said that adults will continue to be criminally prosecuted for crossing illegally. But at least 2,000 children already removed from their parents’ control have been sent around the country to centers and foster care.
Many in passing cars and trucks honked support for the group and received cheers in return. A handful of others disagreed, one engaging in an argument with protesters as he waited for the light to change, a few others making obscene gestures. Another driver shouted “Trump No.1! Trump No.1!” as he drove through the intersection.
Faith leaders, including rabbis and an Orthodox priest from Syosset, joined the protest. So did two pastors, the Rev. Mary Margaret Flannagan of Sweet Hollow Presbyterian Church in Melville and her husband, the Rev. Adam Fischer of the First Presbyterian Church in Baldwin.
“People are terrified,” she said of refugees and others living here without documentation. “We don’t think anyone deserves the kind of inhumane torture they’ve experienced.
“It is unequivocal,” she said. “The Biblical message is pro-immigrant and pro-stranger, to love not just your neighbor but the stranger.”
Her husband said, “We’re here because it’s important to put feet behind faith. It is about how God cares for the world, cares for those most in need.”
Jim Gaughran, a former member of the Huntington Town Board who is running for State Senate, and Jillian Guthman, town receiver of taxes, turned out at the protest.
“We’re all immigrants, and that’s the message that is starting to come through,” Gaughran said, expressing concern about the physical and psychological health of children.
The Huntington protest was one of hundreds held Saturday around the country.