Bucks Country Protest Unites a 'Dreamer' and a Holocaust Survivor Against New Immigration Policies - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Bucks Country Protest Unites a 'Dreamer' and a Holocaust Survivor Against New Immigration Policies

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Local Outrage Grows Over Immigration Policy Separating Kids

    Local outrage grows over the immigration policy that's led to separating children from families at the Mexican border.

    (Published Friday, June 15, 2018)

    A Bucks County protest over children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border brought back painful memories Friday for both a "Dreamer" and a Holocaust survivor.

    Under the new policy, which was instituted last month, the Department of Homeland Security is referring all cases of suspected illegal entry into the United States for criminal prosecution.

    U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday that the federal government is following the law, and that having a child "does not give you immunity from arrest and prosecution."

    But the policy has caused controversy in recent days because it has led to almost 2,000 children being detained away from their parents.

    People gathered to protest the policy in Langhorne Friday afternoon outside the office of U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican who represents Pennsylvania's 8th District.

    Among them was Jessica Columna-Gonzalez, who was reminded of her own experience crossing the border as a child.

    Columna-Gonzalez was detained when she crossed the border and lost contact with her sister. She is now in the country under protections -- never passed by Congress, but upheld by federal courts -- for people brought to the country as young children.

    “I still have panic attacks from what happened,” Columna-Gonzalez said.

    Columna-Gonzalez shared her story with a group of protesters gathered in Langhorne. Among the crowd was 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Renee Disabella, who said the stories reminded her of her own experiences being captured and imprisoned as a child.

    “They took me to prison first and then to the concentration camp,” Disabella said.

    Disabella now wants to use her voice to speak out against locking children in facilities near the border.

    “It’s sad. I just can’t believe it," she said. "It’s unbelievable.”

    Local advocates hope that Congress will hear their voices and take action.

    “I am hoping they hear the voice of the citizens and stop this inhumane treatment," Tam St. Claire of the Bucks County Women’s Coalition said.

    Representative Brian Fitzpatrick’sRepresentative Brian Fitzpatrick’s