Members of the Jefferson County Immigrant Rights Advocates demonstrate Tuesday to bring attention to the separation of children and their families seeking asylum at the border of the United States and Mexico. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Members of the Jefferson County Immigrant Rights Advocates demonstrate Tuesday to bring attention to the separation of children and their families seeking asylum at the border of the United States and Mexico. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend group protests for immigrant rights

PORT TOWNSEND — A group of 55 men and women stood with signs Tuesday to bring awareness to an immigration issue facing parents and children at the southern border of the United States.

Members of the Jefferson County Immigrant Rights Advocates (JCIRA) gathered at the intersection of Sims Way and Kearney Street waving signs and banners — emblazoned with such sentiments as “Keep families together” and “Taking children is a crime.” They yelled slogans and applauded when some of the drivers passing by responded positively with a honk and a wave.

‘To shed light’

Libby Palmer and Katie Franco, co-founders of JCIRA of Port Townsend, organized the demonstration, “to shed light on a federal immigration policy that separates parents from children who are asking for asylum,” Franco said.

“These people are not trying to cross illegally. They are doing it in a legal manner, yet they are treated like criminals,” she said.

“Little kids, infants younger than 1 year, and high school-aged children are separated from their parents. They can’t even say good-bye.”

Franco said children are held for months and many parents are not sure where their children have been taken.

“Many people have withdrawn their request for asylum because they don’t want to put their families through this kind of trauma,” Palmer said.

“Asylum is guaranteed by international law,” Palmer added.

The Jefferson County Immigrant Rights Advocates offers help to immigrants in both Jefferson and Clallam counties who need representation, publish educational materials and bring attention to immigrant issues through protest.

The registered nonprofit organization sprang from discussions after the first Women’s March in Port Townsend in 2017.

It aims to build a supportive and safe community for immigrants to live, according to its website at www.jcira.org.

A hotline is at 360-531-2656.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]

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