McALLEN — It’s time to unite and send a message to leaders in Washington, said a Georgia state political candidate who was the guest speaker at a political rally here Saturday.

“We need to be building bridges, not walls,” said Triana Arnold James, a candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia. “We need to stand together and tell those folks up in Washington time is up.”

Arnold James was speaking at the Families Belong Together rally held on the sidewalk of Logicorp Enterprises on the Military Highway across from the U.S. Border Patrol immigrant processing facility.

She describes herself as a humanitarian, a wife, a mother of 12 and a U.S. Army veteran. Arnold James was one of over 200 protesters fighting for the rights of the immigrants trying to seek asylum in the United States.

“I’m disgusted and upset by it and I feel for those moms, the parents, because they had to separate from those children. As a veteran, this is not a country I served and don’t recognize this country in doing this,” James said of the situation. “It hurts and breaks my heart and we’ve got to do something. If I don’t stand up, then who will?”

Arnold James, who arrived here Friday, drove around to the immigration processing centers seeking more information on detention situation of girls. She said the news reports have mostly been about the boys.

“We need answers and reunification; this is just a big mess and to me it’s a natural disaster,” she said. “We don’t treat people like this.”

The protesters wore white and came from all across the Valley, some coming from as far away as Georgia and South Carolina and other parts of Texas to see the situation personally.

Their white shirts read “Keep families together” on the front side and on the back, “Together we fight for all.”  

Sara Vann, host of the McAllen rally said the separation of families was made by a reckless administration and cruel-minded president.

The rally also included chants of “Say it loud, say it clear: Immigrants are welcome here,” “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” and “Love not hate makes America great.”

As the morning continued, the microphone was open to anyone who wanted to speak their mind. Some spoke about their relatives and their deep connection to Mexico, the cruelty of separating families and letting the immigrants seek asylum. Some advocated for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Other protesters made their views known by waving posters with messages such as “Our dreams are stronger than your cages and walls” and “Make America Humane Again.” 

The Families Belong Together rally was one of over 600 marches nationwide and one of 35 in Texas which took place Saturday to express opposition to the Trump administration’s displacement of more than 2,400 children from their families under the zero-tolerance policy.

mmoreno@themonitor.com