Nearly 30 grandparents will pack into two 15-seat vans to caravan from New York to the U.S.-Mexico Border at the end of this month to protest President Donald Trump's immigration policies.
The week-long caravan comes after more than 2,000 immigrant children were separated from their families at the southern border, a result of the Trump administration’s "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. Trump has since signed an executive order to end the policy but numerous families remain in detention or separated.
"When the children started being separated from their parents at the border, I just couldn’t believe it. I was horrified," said Michelle Clifton, a 74-year-old grandmother. "I thought, 'what am I going to be able to do as an individual to have an impact on this and to bring attention to it?'"
The result: Grannies Respond, also referred to as Abuelas Responden, a group of grandparents and supporters which formed three weeks ago and says its ready to take to the road to protest.
The journey will begin in Beacon, NY on July 30, wend some 2,000 miles southward to the U.S.- Mexico Border, and arrive in McAllen, Texas on Aug. 6. Along the way, the group will stop in seven cities to host rallies, offer a message of compassion and demand the reunification and release of separated families.
"It’s deeper than that," said Dan Aymar-Blair, creator of Grannies Respond. "Those are just specific demands but this is about respecting human dignity. This is about respecting human life and caring for every member of our society."
Aymar-Blair says he came up with the idea when he was studying effective methods of protest. He claims that protests similar to a "journey" are "powerful" because they collect build momentum, empathy and people for a cause.
"To me, grannies mean something very, very, strong towards children just in terms of what we grannies and grandpas are," Claire Nelson, a 66-year-old grandmother said. "[We are ] strong, we’re elderly, we’re wise, we have unconditional love for our children and children of the world. I felt like that we could respond and make a difference in many ways."
Barry Nelson, 70, wants to set an example for his five grandchildren.
"People are being treated poorly and are being denied entrance into this country," Barry said. "Even people who are seeking political asylum and that’s just wrong and something we have to change and really work on to call attention to this and to everybody in this country."