Neither heat nor rain could stop their progress. Close to a dozen people showed up at noon for a short march through Morgantown on Thursday. Those in attendance were undeterred by the small showing.
“It’s a start,” said Richard Jacob of Hazelton. “It wasn’t always, in the 60s and 70s, that you had humongous crowds fighting the Vietnam War, so you always gotta start somewhere.”
The march, organized by Morgantown Working Families and partner organizations, aimed to show support for and solidarity with migrants being detained at the border.
“A lot of these immigrants have walked hundreds or thousands of miles with the clothes on their back,” said Morgantown Working Families chair Stephanie Zucker. “A lot of times. they’ve lost their possessions. A lot of times, their bags are taken by immigration. They come across with nothing.”
The marchers carried clothing donations collected by the Morgantown Church of the Brethren to the Morgantown Post Office at 40 High St., where they sent the clothing to Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas.
Annunciation House has been housing and helping recently arrived migrants since 1978. The all-volunteer organization claims that the number of migrants being released into its care has risen to as many as 1,000 per day in recent months.
“This is people’s reality, and they need support,” said Audrey Semel, of Morgantown. She attended the event during her lunch break along with several of her coworkers.
“This isn’t right. This doesn’t reflect so many American citizens’ values, so we have to let them know that at least they have support and that we’re working on trying to do something.”
Many of those in attendance echoed the sentiment that the actions of the government at the border did not align with the vision of the United States they want.
“This is not what I signed up for as an American,” said Barry Wendell, 7th Ward representative of Morgantown City Council.
“I’ve just been disturbed with everything this administration has done, in particular around immigration, that they’ve separated parents from their children.”
“We are holding immigrants, and the way we are treating them is unjust, inhumane, un-American,” Zucker said. “I think it’s important that the people make it clear that our government is doing this in our name, but we reject it.”
The march began at 48 Donley St., site of the Morgantown offices of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Organizers had hoped to meet with the senator at her offices to discuss issues of immigration.
“We’ve made a lot of efforts to engage Sen. Capito on the issue of immigration because she does have a very powerful position,” Zucker said.
Capito is the chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, which oversees the budgets of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, among others.
“We don’t want this done in our name, this isn’t what America is about. It’s never been what America is about,” Zucker said. “It’s not what West Virginians are about either. We’re certainly a little riled up.”