On Saturday, hundreds of thousands across the country participated in the Keep Families Together day of action. In New York, a march was led from Foley Square and across the Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza, where a rally was held. Actress Kerry Washington was one of the speakers at the rally, and gave an impassioned speech to the thousands who had congregated in the park. You can watch it below:
Here is a transcript of the speech:
This country comes from immigration. Slavery is a part of my legacy, I understand the legacy of family separation because slavery is a part of my story and so is immigration. My grandparents on my mother's side came to this country through Ellis Island in the '30s from the Caribbean, and they came here like every immigrant seeking better opportunities because of a lack of opportunity in their land — running from poverty, running from racism, running from a place where they couldn't fulfill a dream. I am the fulfillment of their dream. And I will not stand for somebody else turning this country further down the road of racism and disenfranchisement. Enough is enough!
But I'm gonna warn you. As you stand out here today in this heat, I'm gonna warn you that this is a marathon. I need you to be strong. I need you not just today to stay hydrated, I need you to stay hydrated every day. I need you to get enough sleep. I need you to eat right. I need you to look out for your neighbors because this fight is going to be a long one, but it's going to be worth it, because if we do our jobs in a representational democracy and we show up and we say we want to fulfill those first three words of our constitution, we can transform the legacy of this nation. So one more time, hold hands up in the air: you say 'I matter,' 'We Matter,' 'I am the People,' 'We are the People.'
I am here as a lot of things today. I'm here as an American. I'm here as a woman who is concerned about my ability to control my body. I'm here as the granddaughter of immigrants. I'm here as a member of a union. I am also here as a mother. And as a mother, I am outraged. So I wanted to do what I do in my day job, which is read other people's words. I want to read the words of another mother whose son was held in immigration detention center. The names have been changed, but the words are hers. They're taken from an affidavit.
'My name is Margarita. I am the mother of Carlos who is currently being held by the Office of refugee resettlement in a detention center in Portland, Oregon. The first time I realized that Carlos had arrived in the United States was when I received a voicemail from him and which he told me he was being held in Kansas City. When I spoke with Carlos, I felt like my soul had returned to my body. I had spent nights without sleep searching and searching for my son without knowing where he was. A torture, day by day.
The case manager explained to me that he was going to send me some forms to apply to be my son's sponsor, and he asked me for many documents. I was also given a home check. The investigator assured me that in a week they would have results, and that for the new year they would surely give me my son. I got so excited I even brought some Christmas presents for my son. I have them, still wrapped, with Christmas wrapping paper. The give me deep sorrow every time I see them.
First they tell you that in a few weeks you will have your child, then in a month then in another month, but they never fulfill their promises. With such delay, I have asked myself, what am I doing wrong? Have I not sent everything they asked for me? I want them to at least allow me to see him one day, if for a while. What mother would not want to have her son in her arms. If only for a moment.'
I want you to keep this mother and all of these families in your heart. This is about politics, but this is about people. So you keep this struggle close in your heart, and you stay strong for her, and you stay strong for you, and we'll stay strong for each other. God bless you. I love you."