Virginia’s two Democratic senators came to liberal Arlington on Thursday to join religious and community leaders in denouncing President Trump’s actions on the southwestern border.
As administration moved away from separating children and parents, but vowed to continue its “zero-tolerance” policy, Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner called for vigilance in opposing actions that they said could be “awful but not as terrible” as what the Department of Justice rolled out several weeks ago.
“What has happened in the last 10 days, the president thought Americans would be silent,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D), who called the administration “morally bankrupt.” “Americans weren’t silent, we were repulsed.”
The separation of parents and children at the border sparked a national and international outcry, with two-thirds of American voters supporting it, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Monday.
The White House had said it had no choice but to separate families in order to criminally prosecute adults from Central America who entered the country illegally. But the approach has been denounced by religious leaders, mental health professionals and an array of politicians, mostly Democrats but including Republicans.
Kaine said the separations provoked a “moral gag reflex” across the country.
At the gathering with Kaine and Warner at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Priscilla Martinez compared the recent border actions to Trump’s travel ban proposals, which primarily targeted citizens of majority-Muslim countries and have been repeatedly challenged in court.
She said she worries the public will “run of steam and become anesthetized” to what she described as outrageous violations of American principles by the president and his aides.
“We are turning inward, not celebrating the differences among people of the world,” said Martinez, who is affiliated with the All Dulles Area Muslim Society.
The religious and community leaders, nearly all of whom had immigrant family members, spoke of fear among Latinos and Muslims in Northern Virginia, describing “the horrible inhumanity of what’s happening.”
Kaine and Warner urged the participants, who included a rabbi, a Baptist minister, two Latino activists and others to keep up pressure on the president, the administration and their state and local legislators with letters, phone calls and votes.