WATERVILLE — On Mother’s Day in central Maine this year, local activists will hold a rally to protest national policies regarding immigration along the southern border of the United States.

Central Mainers for Change will hold a “Mother’s Day Rally to End Family Separation and Child Detention” from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday at Head of Falls in Waterville.

The rally is part of a national movement that 20 other communities across the country will participate in this weekend with the goal of bringing attention to aspects of the United States’ immigration policy. The Waterville event is the only one to take place in Maine.

“There’s no marching. It’s just a rally,” said one of the organizers, Mary Dunn, an Oakland resident. “(The event) is kind of two things in one. It’s certainly to raise awareness about family separations and child detentions on the southern border, which is still happening even though people say it’s not, and it’s also to celebrate the bond of moms and kids.”

A handful of speakers will address the crowd, and there will be tables with activities for children and families to participate in. There will also be “a little bit of music,” Dunn added. The gathering will take place near the Two Cent Bridge.

Children will have a chance to help decorate a banner and peace flags that Dunn will send to a migrant child center in Homestead, Florida. The Miami Herald reported that by the end of April, the facility was expected to accommodate 3,200 unaccompanied children and teenagers who were taken into federal custody after attempting to enter the United States through Mexico. It was originally designed for 850 people. Last week, it was announced that John Kelly, President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff, joined the board of the company that operates the for-profit center.

“Policies that keep people in Mexico and not coming to the United States are just horrible,” Dunn said. “There are a lot of avenues (to address this), but the avenue we’re taking this weekend is in a peaceful way, on a day we celebrate mothers and children, to raise our voices against an inhumane policy where (the United States) takes children away from their families and puts them places. So (this rally) is looking at it more as a humanitarian problem, not a political problem.”

Michelle Geaghan will speak at the rally Sunday. Courtesy of Michelle Geaghan

The lineup of speakers includes Michelle Geaghan, who, unaffiliated with any organization, helps recent immigrants and migrant farm workers settle into central Maine. Aside from her volunteer work, she manages multilingual projects at Ace Lingual Executives in Lewiston-Auburn. Diane Dicranian, a Quaker activist from the midcoast, also will give a speech. Dicranian attended a large Love Knows No Borders rally in December in San Diego to protest the detention of migrant children. Dunn said U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree supports the event and is sending a letter that will be read aloud Sunday.

Geaghan said she encourages “anyone that believes that children shouldn’t be put in cages, period; anyone curious about the migrant journey to the U.S., and when they arrive, how prevalent the year-round migrant situation is in Maine, what group-types of migrants … we have in Maine … and anyone wondering how they can help be a good neighbor to new Mainers in our area” to attend the rally.

Also on Sunday, there will be a station where children can plant seedlings from Palmyra-based Cornerstone Farms to give to their own mothers.

The rally will take place rain or shine, and if it rains, crafts will occur nearby at the REM building at 31 Temple St.

“If people want to bring signs, that would be lovely,” Dunn said.

The event is co-sponsored by the Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition and the Capital Area New Mainers Project.

 

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