Video by Kim Harris and JP Raineri
A group of mothers along with their children marched through Murrieta on Friday hoping to raise awareness of the border crisis, pressure the Obama administration to stop deportation efforts and encourage congress to come together to pass immigration reform.
The group, known as Trail for Humanity, began their march in Merced, California and planned to arrive at the U.S. Border on Saturday according to Yaleska Castaneda, founder of the group. The group had already walked 325 miles of their planned journey by the time they arrived in a Murrieta neighborhood on their way to city hall and the Border Patrol Station.
“We will be going from city hall to the detention center,” said Castaneda. “We’ve already been walking for 25 days.”
Castaneda said the group, who is marching for their children, walked 15 miles a day and were hosted by community partners in each location they marched.
“We are a group of mothers who got together to organize the walk because we saw the atrocities being committed against the undocumented and it really moved us,” she said. “We’ve been walking along with our children for humanity.”
The group would walk each day then caravan to the next location, not an easy feat in the nearly 100 degree temperatures as the brilliant sunlight beat down on them. Local businesses and residents have supported the group with food, shade and even food.
While there have been occasions where people have reacted negatively, for the most part support has been humbling according to Castaneda.
“People don’t know our immigration status sometimes they see our faces and assume we are undocumented.” she said, adding that they have been heckled, ridiculed and even in some instances physically threatened. “But for every incident there is a bad response there has been an outpouring of love.”
Castaneda said that the group didn’t publish their exact route to protect the children marching with them, some as young as five, but supporters of their cause find them.
“I don’t know how they find us,” she said. “They find us with cases of water, they bring us fruit, put up ice cream stops and it has been an outpouring of love.”
A planned rally at city hall fell through when the group arrived and discovered Murrieta City Hall is closed on Fridays. They planned to move forward with their march to the Border Patrol Station where three buses carrying 140 undocumented immigrants from Central America were turned away by protestors blocking the road chanting “go back home,” and “USA.”
Castaneda said that she was more than just a little nervous to go to the border patrol station where the protests made national news.
“Even though we have prepared legally as much as we can and we have gone through the routes, we don’t know what will happen when we arrive,” she said.
The group made it to the border patrol station without incident and following a brief rally there began the rest of their journey to the border.
Castaneda said she hopes that the group’s efforts can lead to real immigration reform, reuniting the 3.75 million children who were born in the U.S. with their parents who have been deported due to immigration status.
“We just want to make a difference to these families and to those who are faced with deportation,” she said. “We want immigration reform, and that needs to happen soon.”