Photo by Alejandro JSM Chavez

ACLU Attorney Mohammad Tajsar, addressed community members concerned with the separation of families. 

Following the massive march in downtown Los Angeles and across the nation last weekend, a meeting was held at the Flintridge Center in Pasadena by a newly formed organization, “Rise to Reunite.” More than 250 people participated, including volunteer immigration attorneys and community members who wanted to be involved in the effort to end the separation of families at the US/Mexico border.  

Following a panel moderated by Ernst Fenelon Jr. — with ACLU Attorney Mohammad Tajsar, Adela De La Torre from the National Immigration Law Center and Yoland Trevino, a mental health professional from the Coalition of Transformative Leaders — working breakout sessions were led by members of CHIRLA and other organizations to plan a course of action.  

Congresswoman Judy Chu, who addressed the participants, said that she has a background in psychology and went to a center at the border that is holding children 6-17 years old.

“Clearly the kids were traumatized. This is no ‘summer camp,’ they were locked in there and they were clearly upset,” Chu said. 

“These children lost the one constant person in their lives. The president of the Academy of Pediatrics said these kinds of conditions cause toxic stress that can permanently affect their brains and called this situation government sanctioned child abuse. She went to a tender age center and pointed out that normally kids this age are rambunctious and running around, but these kids were screaming and crying or just quiet.”

Chu pointed out that these families mostly from Central America are coming to the border to escape violence in their home countries and called President Trump’s zero tolerance policy, a “zero humanity policy.”

Chu said one parent had killed himself after his child was taken from him. 

Marina Gonzalez, who was an organizer of the meeting, said it was important to come together as a community because hearing about families being separated and not knowing what to do about it can be “isolating.”

“This speaks to the power we have not just as individuals and as a community together we are much more powerful.”

They held breakout sessions to take action, write letters, make calls to Congress and learn more about the companies that are profiting from the centers that are holding children.

The group is seeking volunteer immigration attorneys and community members, for more information go to: