San Francisco

Bay Area Dads, Others Protest Separation of Immigrant Families

On Father's Day, several dads around the Bay Area decided to take their children to demonstrations against the Trump administration’s controversial new policy that separates immigrant parents from their children on the border.

One protest of note took place at a county jail in Richmond, and later Sunday evening, a couple hundred people gathered for a vigil at San Carlos City Hall on the Peninsula.

Attendees brought candles and signs and crowded onto the front steps of City Hall.

The vigil organizer, Ron Piovesan, said he spent the day with his two children, but he couldn’t stop thinking about what fathers are experiencing in immigration detention centers along the U.S. border with Mexico.

"There’s a lot of people who are very angry with what’s going on; they’re feeling helpless," he said. "So I thought for Father's Day, let’s bring everyone together."

Piovesan passed out slips of paper encouraging people to take action, to call their representatives and donate to legal aid groups trying to help immigrant detainees.

Yvonne Brye-Vela compared what’s happening on the U.S. border now with what she saw at history museums when she lived in Germany.

"How could a concentration camp be next door in your neighborhood and no one cared?" she said.

The Customs and Border Protection agency released photos of its facility in McAllen, Texas, where immigrants are processed. It is where parents are reportedly being separated from their children.

Journalists who were allowed to tour the facility Sunday described chain link holding areas as "cages."

Earlier Sunday in Richmond, people gathered outside the West County Detention Facility, where detainees picked up by ICE agents in the Bay Area are often held.

Several people brought their kids to that event, too.

"I can’t celebrate my fatherhood when there are fathers who are literally killing themselves because their children are ripped from them," San Francisco resident Trevor McNeil said. "If someone took my children, I don’t even know what I would do."

Organizers of Sunday night's vigil say there are more events planned across the Bay Area in the next several days.

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