Aberdeen: Families Belong Together

17 Jul, 2018

Who will speak up for the Children? Aberdeen Presentation Sisters join others to rally together, Families Belong Together!  

As we honor the 300th anniversary of Nano’s birthday, we remember she was a woman who risked her own comfort to educate vulnerable children during penal law. We go one pace beyond her steps and do what we can to protect vulnerable children at the border today!

Presentation Sisters, Cojourners and Presentation People joined nearly 300 people in Sioux Falls and more than 75 people in Aberdeen for the Families Belong Together National Day of Action on June 30. According to, the main sponsor of the event, there were 628 sister rallies across all 50 states. The goal of the rally was to urge Congress to enact immigration policies that keep families together. Taneeza Islam, executive director for South Dakota Voices for Peace declared, “this [immigration policies that separate children from their parents] is about our humanity and our humane policies.  It is no longer about politics.”  Presentation Sisters and their partners made their voices heard by holding up new signs that boldly proclaimed, “Presentation Sisters Stand with Immigrants and Refugees,” and “Presentation Sisters Advocate for Comprehensive Immigration Policy.”

In Sioux Falls, a story was read of a distressed mother from Guatemala who came to the Caminando Juntos office recently, desperately wanting to know where her two children, 10 years and 14 years were being detained. The readers 3-year-old daughter, concluded the story with the words, “FAMILIES BELONG TOGETHER!” at which time everyone joined in and it was a powerful moment of children speaking for children.

Pastor Lou Whitmer, North Highland UMC, Aberdeen, said “the Aberdeen rally held an energy towards the importance of voting and one person even came ready to register attendees. An event like this, that was focused on children, seemed to resonate with a larger group of people.”

The emotional story of separated families is not limited to what is happening at the Mexican/U.S. border. Midgag Mustafa, a United States marine, emigrated from Sudan in 2000 after being raised in Yemen. He tearfully spoke out against the Muslim travel ban, advocating for change in ways theban is separating people from their families.

Follow up/Responses
After this rally, it is becoming clear that people are impassioned to respond to these injustices. One person, Taneeza Islam, recently presented an idea to hire an immigration attorney who is bilingual and who would be easily accessible in South Dakota to provide legal services to unaccompanied minors and their families. The facts are clear: there are no legal services for unaccompanied minors or asylum seekers in South Dakota! At least 60% of children who have attorneys are granted U.S. protection.  She received broad based support.  The idea is now a plan!

The political climate and inhumane immigration policies have fueled tensions amongst religions and races.  In response on a local level, the Sioux Falls Multi-Cultural Center, Pax Christi South Dakota and Caminando Juntos invited religious leaders and Native Americans to offer prayers, songs, rituals for peace and as a witness of our embracing religious and ethnic diversity with love at a Candlelight Prayer Vigil on Sunday, July 22 from 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM at First Congregational Church in Sioux Falls.
All are welcome.