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Thousands gathered for the Labor United to Free the Children rally on Aug. 15 at Penns Landing. Photo: Emily Neil / AL DÍA News
Thousands gathered for the Labor United to Free the Children rally on Aug. 15 at Penns Landing. Photo: Emily Neil / AL DÍA News

Labor unites in Philly to demand end to family detention

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On Wednesday, thousands of members of labor unions from Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania gathered at Penn’s Landing to call for the Trump administration to end family detention, and ensure that all families that have been separated are reunited.

The rally, referred to as both the Labor United to Free the Children and the Liberty and Justice for All rally, was, according to organizers, the largest labor-led demonstration on immigration in the nation.

Speakers included Mayor Jim Kenney, representatives from many labor unions such as IUPAT District Council 21, Unite Here Philadelphia, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and many more, along with immigrants rights advocates from Juntos, the Sanctuary Coalition and others.

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“When this White House tries to attack our immigrant communities, we need to fight back, and that’s exactly what you’re all doing here today and I’m glad this crowd is as big as it is,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney as he addressed the crowd.

For Preandre Watson, a union member of Local 332, the reason for being there was simple.

“We’re here in support of reuniting the families...because unions are about family,” said Watson, who added that he sees immigrants who come to the country as “part of the human family.” 

Mary Ruffin of Local 54, who was representing the Hard Rock Casino of Atlantic City, NJ, said that for her it was also about “supporting the children.”

Ashley Téllez, a seventh grader at Mastery Charter Thomas campus and youth leader from Juntos, called for support of efforts to shut down the Berks County detention center, where around 20 immigrant families, including children, are currently being held in Leesport, PA. 

Various city and state elected officials and faith leaders were also in attendance.

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