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Video: Aberdeen Patriots, Pastors, Humanitarians Call for Empathy and End to Family Separation Policy

As I reported yesterday, around 70 people gathered in Aberdeen’s Anderson Park (a really good location for protests—remember that for future rallies!) to protest the federal government’s atrocious policy of separating families at our southern border. Here are some of the speeches offered by some good Americans.

Rally co-organizer Marie Miller from Andover says we must not tolerate any elected official’s excuses for the immoral policy of separating children from parents arriving in our country:

Wendy Blegen of Britton, Navy veteran and organizer of the Prairie Persisters, is disgusted that our government is committing child abuse:

Sam Bjorkman, Aberdeen, reads a statement from his dad, Tim Bjorkman, Democratic candidate for U.S. House. Rally organizers asked our sitting Congressional delegation for statements on family separation; only Senator John Thune replied, and it included the “buts” that Marie Miller finds morally unacceptable.

Cory Allen Heidelberger (that’s me!) speaks about the local dehumanization that makes public tolerance of the current Administration’s human rights abuses possible, the proper political response to such atrocities, and sharing the American dream.

Methodist Pastor Lou Whitmer says our American values and her Christian values demand that we speak up against family separation. She reminds us that Christians follow “an itinerant migrant rabbi whose story even before his birth was focused on those who were being oppressed by empire and extreme political power” and told the nations that they would be judged on “how they treated others they considered to be the least.” Said that rabbi, “Whatever you do to the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you also do to me.” That rabbi “debated and challenged the powers that be, those that perpetuated oppression”—Pastor Lou makes that rabbi sound like my kind of guy:

Lawrence Diggs from Rosholt brings his usual deep thoughts about psychology and humanity, the deepest of which today was “I am not like you; I am you…. They are not like us, my friends, they are us, and that is why we are here.”

UCC Pastor Ginny Adams of Aberdeen reminds us of Margaret Mead’s faith that a “small group of thoughtful, committed people” can change the world:

A local woman speaks of her experience helping migrant children at a Texas shelter after Hurricane Harvey last fall. She also brings her new dog Roman to point out that we don’t want dogs or children in cages:

Aberdeen orchestra teacher Joe Berns boils it down to one great call to action: Teach empathy:

10. Sister Myra from Presentation speaks of the honest hard work Hispanic immigrants in Aberdeen are doing to support their families and become a part of our community. (By the way, that’s Avera’s helicopter buzzing their own Catholic Sister—pass that up to management!)

11. Soccer coach and English teacher Jeremy Wood from Jamestown took a break from the tournament in town to show his solidarity with our cause. He echoed Pastor Lou’s teaching that “the measure of society is how well you treat the least of us” and that our society “can do better” than tearing apart families at the border. ¡Familias unidas—no dividas!

Alas, my camera missed Ginny Webb, who drove all the way from Eagle Butte to read her original poems. You can read those on the Aberdeen Families Belong Together Facebook page.


  1. AnneBeal 2018-07-01 11:04

    Lots of casinos have been separating children from their parents with their “Must be 21 to Enter” policies. Is that what we need at the border? Do the opponents of the current immigration policy believe families with children should be turned back, deported immediately, without hearings? The children aren’t coming here looking for work, after all.
    Or are the opponents of family separation advocating that the children be incarcerated with their parents? Put the whole family in jail? That’s what they are doing now. Putting entire families in jail. Maybe local law enforcement should be doing that they next time they lock up some parents for DUIs or drug charges. Put them all in the same cell together, kids and parents. It might be good for children to watch their parents go through DTs.

    I’m not seeing much in the way of solutions here, just a lot of wailing and calls for open borders and the abolition of ICE, which would be a drug smuggler/pimp’s dream come true.

    What should be done with children when the parents break the law?
    Every two minutes a child in America is goes into the foster care system; there are 2.5 million children currently separated from their parents. The 2000 still in custody at the border are a fraction of the total.

  2. mike from iowa 2018-07-01 11:13

    They got part of their wish. Families that are together now will stay together for extended incarcerations. The others may never be rejoined. Such is the nature of the beast behind this draconian policy.

    See what I did”I called Drumpf/perjurer Sessions a beast without actually saying their names.

  3. mike from iowa 2018-07-01 11:14

    They got part of their wish. Families that are together now will stay together for extended incarcerations. The others may never be rejoined. Such is the nature of the beast behind this draconian policy.

    See what I did? I called Drumpf/perjurer Sessions a beast without actually saying their names.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-01 12:34

    There is no valid comparison between casinos and the hostage-taking action of the Trump Administration.

  5. Porter Lansing 2018-07-01 13:49

    That was a true “tear in my eyes” speech, Cory. When you said, “Atrocious failure of empathy” and the crowd applauded; and when you said “Aberdeen groups that gather just to “dehumanize the other” and “It’s time to wind America up again.” I was moved.
    And … then I read the comments of Anne Beal. The speech never meant more to me then after reading what’s on her mind. Thanks, Anne. You’re why immigrants leave everything, risk death and start over with very little to come to America. Because we have freedom of expression.

  6. Roger Cornelius 2018-07-01 14:04

    I have yet to hear anyone in an official capacity to call for ‘open borders’. Where do these people get that crap?

  7. mike from iowa 2018-07-01 14:43

    I’m not seeing much in the way of solutions here, just a lot of wailing and calls for open borders and the abolition of ICE, which would be a drug smuggler/pimp’s dream come true.

    You ain’t offering any solutions, either. A border wall will not stop drug smugglers or pimps. It won’t even slow them down. Calling immigrants names is really effective. Insulting our neighboring countries until they refuse to cooperate with orange moron in the WH worked wonders, didn’t it.

  8. Debbo 2018-07-01 23:54

    Calls to abolish ICE are limited to a few and don’t solve the problem, though it does serve as a distraction for those who don’t want to look at the horror of ripping small children from their families.

    It is necessary to have border control and the US has very effective border control without these crimes against families. Unlawful entry at the southern border is at a low ebb, contrary to pres Child Abuser’s lies. What he has ordered is simply not necessary.

    The people being so cruelly mistreated are refugees from some of the most dangerous places on the planet. That’s why they left the only homes they had. There are established and effective procedures in place for asylum seekers.

    Again, numbers of people seeking entry is at a low ebb. pres Child Abuser’s cruelty is simply unnecessary.

  9. Debbo 2018-07-01 23:57

    Good speakers. I’m completely on board with Marie Miller. It is that cut and dried. Thanks for the videos Cory, and your usual first rate coverage.

    Mr. Diggs is really a remarkable gentleman. Isn’t he the vinegar guy too?

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-02 16:30

    Roger, Debbo’s got it—ICE abolition/open borders are complete distractions, seized upon by our evil leaders to hide their irrefutable human rights abuses.

    Porter, thank you for the compliment. As always, I am glad I can put words together in ways that explain and move. I’ll keep doing it… and I hope my neighbors will send me to use this skill on their behalf in Pierre.

    And yes, Diggs is the Vinegar Man.

  11. bearcreekbat 2018-07-02 18:10

    Okay, I have thought long and hard about this family separation problem and I think I have found a solution that is consistent with American values.

    Why shouldn’t our Country simply help these families, these mothers and fathers, these little children seeking to escape violence or poverty. Our values support helping people in danger from tornados, fires, floods, and other life threatening and harmful events beyond their control.

    People seeking asylum from violence and poverty are dealing with dangers beyond their control which supports developing a policy of helping them as one of our highest priorities. This seems to be a relatively easy problem to solve and Occam’s Razor supports my proposed solution. No need for open borders or jailing asylum seekers if we simply adopt policies to help these folks in need rather than punish them.

  12. Porter Lansing 2018-07-02 18:41

    Hear, hear BCB. Let’s Make America Greater Than The Last Year and a Half Has Been.

  13. Jason 2018-07-03 14:11

    Amber Heard has tweeted the truth.

    “Just heard there’s an ICE checkpoint in hollywood, a few blocks from where I live. Everyone better give their housekeepers, nannies and landscapers a ride home tonight…” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-03 15:32

    Tweet sounds irrelevant to me.

    Bearcreekbat, I can think of no better foreign policy, no surer way to make America stronger in reputation and in fact than to offer refuge to people fleeing crime, tyranny, and disaster. As I said Saturday, our greatness lies not in the mere magnitude of our wealth but in our magnanimity.

  15. Jason 2018-07-03 15:38

    People breaking the law is irrelevant to you?

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-03 18:51

    (Word games, Jason. You want drag us away from discussing the merits of the speeches, some prepared, some extemporaneous, presented here in Aberdeen and instead make up straw-man arguments about irrelevant news blurps. Amber Heard wasn’t at our rally. She did not speak at our rally. No one mentioned her in my hearing at the rally. I don’t even recognize her name. Not relevant.)

    No irrelevant tweet refutes the statements made by the speakers about human rights, dehumanization, political action, empathy, and other topics.

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