The "Families Belong Together" rally was one of hundreds held throughout the nation on Saturday. The Pleasanton event, which began at 1 p.m. at the park along First Street, was sponsored by a variety of local organizations, specifically local religious and political groups.
"I see this as a good step, but a first step on which to build a grassroots movement to change this policy and reunite all of the families that have been cruelly separated," said Danice Andrus, one of the rally's organizers.
The purpose of the rally, Andrus said, was three-fold: to reunite all families separated under the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy, to end family separation and indefinite detention, and to end the "zero humanity policy, parents should not be criminally prosecuted for trying to keep their families safe," she said.
Several local officials and community leaders spoke to the crowd at the rally. Both Rabbi Larry Milder from Congregation Beth Emek and Arushi Avachat from Students for Social Change cited Emma Lazarus' "The New Colossus" poem, the famed "Give me your tired, your poor" words etched at the foot of the Statue of Liberty -- the two speakers referencing the country's status as a nation of immigrants.
"One hundred years ago our nation closed its borders to Jewish families out of fear...as a result every Jewish family has family members who died in the Holocaust," Milder added.
Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne spoke on the power of family, and social worker Felicitas Bejarano shared stories about unaccompanied minors who traveled hundreds of miles to arrive in the United States, and what drove them to make the perilous journey.
The rally's co-sponsors included Organizing for Action East Bay Central Chapter, Muslim Community Center East Bay, CIRCP Coalition, NAMI Tri-Valley, Congregation Beth Emek, Catholic Community of Pleasanton, St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, Tri-Valley Women's March Action Group, and Tri-Valley Progressives for Our Revolution.