TCH Board Member Delivers Soulful Appeal at Families Belong Together Rally

On June 30th, hundreds of Tacoma residents rallied at Wright Park and People’s Park to express outrage over the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies.

Tacoma Community House stood beside 12 community organizations—YWCA, Centro Latino, Rainbow Center, and others—to host the rally in Hilltop, where we have lived and advocated for immigrant rights for over 100 years.

It was electrifying to look out at nearly 400 Tacomans who waved signs, held young children in their arms, wept together, chanted, and listened as community advocates took the stage to vocalize what so many of us have in our hearts.

We are especially grateful to Rev. Abigail Vizcarra Perez, TCH Board member, for delivering such a passionate, poetic, and soulful speech. Abigail is a convening pastor at ConnexionTacoma and was the first Latinx to be ordained by the United Methodist Church in the Pacific Northwest. We are proud to benefit from her leadership and conviction!

Listen to / read Abigail’s full speech below:

Bienvenidos a la lucha. Welcome to our struggle.

They gave me two minutes to represent over 100 years of immigration, advocacy, education and employment services right here in Hilltop.

Bienvenidos a la lucha. Welcome to our struggle.

At Tacoma Community House, we know that these policies were written in fear, but we are not afraid of those who come to us with a child in their arms. We are prepared to provide for the orphans, the widows, the strangers, and we will not take part in the criminalization or victimization of those who come to us for sanctuary.

Do not be fooled. This is not just about what happens at the border. These are laws that put all of us in danger. These policies are inhumane and abusive, because they traumatize our children. Yours and mine. My daughter is only four years old and she knows when her friends are in danger. Do you?

We know that these parents are doing what any parent would do for their child. What any of us would do for each other. We make sacrifices. We are courageous in the face of danger and guided by what is best for our children. Current policies ignore the value of survivors and their bold and passionate caregivers. Policies do not replace parents.

Strong families are built in a country that strengthens the bond between individuals for the sake of the whole. We all suffer with these little ones. Do you know what it sounds like when it is bed time in a warehouse? A converted Walmart? Full of children who have no one to reassure them? Imagine the cries of 100 orphans rising up at once, and let your voices join theirs.

Bienvenidos a la lucha.

You are here today to offer unconditional welcome and advocate for families of all kinds whenever they face danger, because we know that childhood trauma affects how this generation will lead us in the future.

At Tacoma Community House we choose to trust our brothers and sisters who risk their lives in order to carry a child to safety. And we have the resources we need if, and only if, all of us recognize these families as a gift. An example of who we ought to be for all children. Policies don’t replace parents.

You and I will work together against these policies that tear families apart. You will listen with your hearts when they ache for the children who long to be held. You will defend the rights of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers who crawl through the desert toward you, carrying nothing but their most precious gifts. Their children.

Bienvenidos a la lucha.