Immigration rally in downtown Raleigh: 'All families deserve to be together'
Twelve-year-old Uriel Rodriguez spoke in both English and Spanish as he addressed a crowd gathered in downtown Raleigh on Wednesday.
“I am proudly Hispanic and the son of immigrant parents who crossed the border searching for a better life," Uriel said. "In search of the great American dream."
Hundreds gathered at Bicentennial Plaza on Wednesday afternoon to protest the separation of Hispanic families at the U.S.-Mexico border. The protest as organized by the Carolina Peace Center. Hours earlier, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to quell a nationwide outcry over the practice of splitting up asylum-seeking parents and children at the southern border.
The crowd in Raleigh cheered for Uriel, who hopes to become an American politician. He choked up as he talked about his mother’s journey to the United States. She was 3 months pregnant with Uriel when she arrived with her elderly father and 2-year-old daughter.
“It’s impossible not to cry while I remember how she crossed the border, and more so that my sister could have been torn from my mother,” he said.
“How much pain does it take to a step onto American land, and that is where you come from one nightmare and go to another,” he continued.
Rodriguez also gave a speech in Spanish directly addressing the immigrant and Hispanic community.
"Querid acommunidad hispana, querida comunidad imigrante, nosotros que vivimos con lad realidad de ser. Imigrantes y indocumentados sabemos el dolor, el miedo que vivimos por las possible separacion de nuestras familicas, ustedes imigraron en busca de una vida mejor, de un sueno agamos que ese sueno sea realidad para todos," said Rodriguez.
In English Rodriguez is saying "My dear Hispanic community, my dear immigrant community, we that live with the reality of being immigrants and undocumented know the pain and fear of living with the possibility of being seperated from our families. You did not leave your countries to be singled out. You migrated in search of a better life and to live your dream. Let's make that dream a reality."
Suzy Geronino, a part-time cosmetologist and full-time activist from Mexico, said she wanted politicians to act with humanity.
“Be conscious, like a person," she said, urging lawmakers to push for change. "Not follow the political things. Just follow the heart."
Geronino said she was touched by the Americans surrounding her at the protest.
“It’s not just the Hispanic people," she said. "You see American people are here. Why? Because they see what’s wrong with what the president (is) doing."
Ryan Kuzma, a 17-year-old who plans to attend New York University in the fall, also questioned the humanity of government officials.
“Make a statement. Spread awareness," she said. "I’m not sure what protesting is going to do, but it’s better than being at home sitting on my butt."
Amanda Zekanis is a history teacher and mother. The 32-year-old said she couldn't imagine what it would be like to be separated from her young children.
“As a mother myself, I can’t even put into words how desperate and broken I would be if that happened to me," she said. "It’s not right and it’s not OK."