As the federal government failed to meet a court-ordered deadline to reunite immigrant families Thursday, Bay Area parents and grandparents announced a 3-day hunger strike—the first in a series of fasts across the country calling for separated parents and children to be released together.
“As a mom, I’m supporting the hunger strike because children deserve to be protected no matter where they are born,” said Xochitl Oseguera of Moms Rising.
The hunger strike took place outside Oakland’s Federal Building, beginning the morning of Monday, July 30, and closing on the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 1. Public mobilizations took place each day of the strike at 8 a.m., noon and 6 p.m.
On Thursday, a 3-day fast was scheduled to begin in Sacramento. Organizers plan to continue rolling hunger strikes across the country until their demands are met, with fasts already planned in Santa Cruz, Portland, and Charlottesville, VA.
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw gave the Trump Administration a July 26 deadline to reunite all separated families. But only 1,012 of more than 3,000 had been reunited by Tuesday, and hundreds of parents appear to have been deported without their children.
Parents and grandparents in the Bay Area and across the country launched the hunger strikes in order to keep pressure on the government to reunite the remaining families—inspired by mothers inside Port Isabel Detention Center in Texas, who went on a rolling hunger strike after being denied the right to speak to their children.
Strikers released the following statement of demands:
“We demand that every migrant family separated by this administration be reunited and released from incarceration. We demand that the families receive support and justice for the trauma inflicted by our government.
“We are parents, we are elders, we are clergy members, we are volunteers, we are teachers. We are ordinary people who have decided that enough is enough. We will not silently watch government-sanctioned kidnapping and the torture of migrant families.
“We will not sit back and watch families torn apart, babies and toddlers deemed ‘ineligible’ for reunification, children returned to their parents so traumatized they can’t speak, parents denied food, water, and medical care, children and women subjected to abuse and mockery. We stand against the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant families.
“We will continue our hunger strike and other solidarity actions until our demand is met.”
Participants also linked their fast to the broader surge of violence and racism facing immigrants, communities of color, and children under the Trump Administration.
“My fast is my public demonstration of my broken heartedness,” said Rabi’a Keeble. “We have the Muslim ban, we have young Black women being murdered on public transit, we have a government that is out of control, and trying to turn back the clock on progress 60 years. My fast is dedicated to change, to hope, and to futures that are better than what we have now.”