Save the children movement grows in Tucson - Tucson News Now

Save the children movement grows in Tucson

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The #freethechildren coalition held a press conference Tuesday morning inside the Pima County Administration Building at 130 West Congress. 

It started with about 50 people from the various groups supporting the mission, but by the end it had swelled to more than a 100 as passersby stopped to listen and take note.

The coalition is protesting the government policy which allows children to be taken from parents who show up at the border seeking asylum or who cross the border illegally. 

Estimates from some outlets, such as Reuters, says as many as 1,800 families have had children taken away.

Where or how or even if the families are ever reunited isn't known.

The group is demanding the policy end immediately.

"It's basically child abuse," said Eve Shapiro, a pediatrician of 40 years. "We are abusing these children in the name of this immigration policy."

Shapiro, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a 66,000 member group which has filed suit to end the policy, says taking children from parents at a young age can have lasting consequences. 

Studies, she says, shows it affects children's brain structures, their health, their memory and their thinking.

"This is unconscionable," she said. "It will affect the child for the rest of their lives."

That's why she's hoping the policy can be stopped before any more children are affected. 

Margot Venares brought her six-month-old daughter Irene to the protest but left early.

On the way out she said, "I wouldn't be able to be able to bear it," she said if her children were taken away. "It's a fate worse than death."

Rev Dr. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, a Senior Pastor at the United Methodist Church is also calling on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the policy, 

Sessions is also a United Methodist. 

"I am making an appeal to a fellow brother of mine in Christ to do what he needs to do to live out our spiritual scripture," she said. "Set the children free."

Rev Escobedo-Frank grew up in Nogales and says it's something happening in her own back yard. 

"I don't think we have enough words to say how much damage it does to a child when they are ripped away from their mother and father," she said. "We will never know the depths of damage."

Copyright 2018 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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