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CHICAGO – On August 4 and 5, organizations, church groups and ordinary families throughout the country will hold barbecues, picnics and cookouts in small towns and rural counties that voted for Donald Trump. Rural families reject cruel immigration policies and refuse to be complicit in perpetuating racist stereotyping.

Communities will gather to show support for opening our hearts and our country to immigrants and reuniting families separated at the border.

Small town families are among the multitude pushing back against the hate stoked by those who gain power by pitting poor and working class people against each other. Families, in the rural south, in America’s heartland, and the Rust Belt, are taking action to help the migrant families torn apart. We are bypassing politics and politicians and reaching out person-to-person.

Forty-nine percent of the Families Belong Together actions and events that happened nationwide on June 30 were in counties that voted for Trump.

“It’s no small deal that the biggest expression of resistance to the Trump agenda in parts of the country that voted for Trump, has been in reaction to the separation of migrant children from their parents,” said George Goehl, director of People’s Action.

“On August 4 and 5, people in some of these counties will gather around food, we’ll talk about family, and we’ll pass the hat to raise money for migrant families,” said Goehl. “Passing the hat for families in need is part of a long tradition; this time it won’t be for a family down the road, but for a family all the same.”

“In Alabama’s small towns, most people understand that it’s the politicians and their wealthy corporate donors, not immigrants or migrant families, who are responsible for our day-to-day struggles,” said Justin Vest of Montevallo, Alabama.

“I’m sick and tired of my people – working-class white people and small town Alabamians – being used by politicians to justify these atrocities. Alabama families are standing up for immigrants and it’s time to change the narrative about who we are,” said Vest.

Julie Duhn lives in Eldora, Iowa, population 2,700, a farm town deep in Trump country. She’s hosting a community cookout on August 5.

“When I saw the pictures of people coming to our border legally seeking asylum and having their babies and children torn from their arms, I knew that silence would not speak for me,” said Duhn, a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

“I know there are others who feel the same and want the opportunity to let their neighbors know it,” said Duhn. “Enough is enough. This is a new level of cruel. We are families in Eldora, and families don’t let this happen to other families.”

The community cookouts will also raise money to reunite families, post bond for detained families to be released, and for travel costs.


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About People’s Action Institute

Over five decades, People’s Action Institute and our affiliates have fought for reforms that recognize poor and working people’s dignity and make material and political improvements to millions of lives. Our victories include the Community Reinvestment Act, Superfund, the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act and the MAT Act.

We engage in issue campaigns, public education and training to advance a long-term agenda for racial, economic and gender justice. Our focus now is on deepening community organizing so we can build lasting power across the country. 

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