DES MOINES, Iowa — The temperatures were high on Saturday, but so were the frustration levels of protesters. They gathered at the statehouse to speak out against the Trump Administration’s zero tolerance immigration policies.
“I can’t believe where we’re at in this country. I can’t believe what’s happened here in just the last year and a half. It seems like the compassion that Americans have for the less fortunate is disappearing, and it’s great to be around so many people who still feel that compassion” said Curt Froyen.
Froyen says this is the first protest of any kind he’s attended since protesting the Vietnam War. He was drafted, and now the Vietnam vet is saying this immigration policy isn’t what he fought for.
“Nearly everyone here is a descendent of an immigrant, and they didn’t all come here with critical skills. They came here with just hope for a better life and they contributed to make this country great. What we’re doing right now isn’t what I’d consider to be great any longer” said Froyen.
Speaker Alexa Rodriguez shared stories of parents and children who were separated at the border, moving some in the crowd to tears.
“Five year-old Jose was taken from his father after they arrived at the U.S. border in El Paso. His foster mother reports that the first few nights he cried himself to sleep, and recently, he moans and moans as he tries to fall asleep. He keeps a stick figure drawing of his family underneath his pillow” said Rodriguez.
Stories like that keep protesters like Sara Gangel up at night.
“As a mother I’m really disturbed over the idea of kids being taken from their families. Really, I’ve woken up with nightmares trying to think about what it might be like and it’s heartbreaking” she said.
Protesters say that it won’t be enough just to show up with signs, they need to take action in the midterm elections.
“We have to vote this out, we have to get rid of this. It’s just awful” said Steven Mackey.
The rally was organized by Next-Gen Iowa and the League of United Latin American Citizens.