As protesters marched across the United States demanding the Trump administration to reverse its draconian “zero-tolerance” policy that has separated thousands of migrant children from their parents, a young activist in Washington D.C. made headlines for not only advocating for asylum-seeking families but also discussing her constant fear of being separated from her immigrant mother.
The 12-year-old named Leah moved the audience at “Families Belong Together” march, where she broke down into tears talking about her mother who works as a nanny in Miami, Florida.
“My name is Leah. I am 12 years old and from Miami, Florida. I am the proud daughter of a domestic worker who loves me very much,” the young girl began to loud cheers and applause. “My mom's job is very important. Unlike our government, she takes care of children as a nanny and makes sure they are healthy and safe.”
Leah then went on to call President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown “evil.”
“I am here today because the government is separating and detaining refugee parents at the border who are looking for safety. Our government also continues to separate U.S. citizen children like me from their parents every day. This is evil! It needs to stop!” she continued. "It makes me sad to know that children can't be with their parents. I don't understand why they're being so mean to us children. Don't they know how much we love our family? Don't they have a family too? Why don't they care about us children?”
I am about to give a speech in a crowd of thousands of people!! Please wish me luck!! It is not easy to talk about my fear of losing my family to immigration! 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾#FamiliesBelongTogether #FancyFoodShow pic.twitter.com/wxX7H2oTb6— Leah !🤗🌈❤️ (@LeahTheActivist) June 30, 2018
Leah also talked about how lawmakers who are splitting families apart get to go home to their own families at the end of the day while scores of children remain in detention facilities, hoping for their parents to come and rescue them.
“Why do they hate us like this? It is unfair that they get to spend time with their families today while there are children in detention center and in cages all alone, missing their parents, who are thrown in jail,” she said as some in the crown began chanting "Shame! Shame! Shame!"
That’s when the 12-year-old started to cry.
“I live with the constant fear of losing my mom to deportation,” she explained. “My mom is strong, beautiful, and brave. She is also a person who taught me how to speak up when I see things that aren't fair.”
Leah’s words clearly expressed the anxiety she felt about her hardworking mother’s future in the country.
“I can’t sleep, I can’t study, I am stressed,” she told the crowd. “I am afraid that they will take my mom away while she is at work, out driving or at home. I don’t understand why this administration won’t support mothers who just want a better life for their children.”
Her powerful words resonated with people across the country, many of whom took to social media to show solidarity with the young activist.
It is my right to stay with my mother - such heartbreaking & powerful words from this girl Leah #FamiliesBelongTogether— Nida Khan (@NidaKhanNY) June 30, 2018
Watching the Families Belong Together rally in DC. Leah is breaking my heart. 💔💔💔— Mr. Wednesday (@MrWednesday11) June 30, 2018
Much love to you Leah!!! You did a great job - moved me to tears! You and your parents have the full support of so many of us and we stand with you!! ??— I'm Amy ?????? (@_JustAsIAmy) June 30, 2018
I watched your speech! It was beautiful. Hold on to that strength as hard as you can. You are the future - don't ever let go of that. I hope your mother and the rest of your family are well. Please let her know how many care! #FamiliesBelongTogether— Outraged Grandma Peggy (@PjW_K) June 30, 2018
You did a wonderful job! My heart goes out to you. I’m so sorry you have to live in fear of your mom being taken away from you. We are all working hard to get Congress to pass a bill that will protect people like your mom. So try not to worry. Much love to you.— LaurieMGoldberg (@LaurieMGoldberg) July 1, 2018
Later, Leah also took to Twitter to thank people for their support.
Thank you all for your love and support! Together we will reunite children with their families and free their parents from detention! #EndFamiliyDetention #FamiiesBelongTogether pic.twitter.com/bvBtQT3OhP— Leah !🤗🌈❤️ (@LeahTheActivist) June 30, 2018
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MoveOn.org