Benjamin Cota and Yvonne Davis stood between park blocks in downtown Portland late Saturday morning and they were tired.
The married couple wore sun hats and white T-shirts, listening to speakers rail against the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy that has led to large-scale separations of migrant families.
“We’re old enough to have seen several administrations,” Cota said. “There isn’t anything like this.”
The Families Belong Together rally, part of a nationwide demonstration, continued three weeks of steady protest in Portland of the administration’s hardline stance on immigration.
It was also another rally in a long line of rallies against President Trump and his policies starting before he even took office.
Cota and Davis said it’s been difficult to keep their energy up over the past two years.
“It’s exhausting,” Davis said. “It’s just so tiresome because every night you come home, you’re like, ‘What did I miss today?’ It’s another outrage.”
So they, like so many others in the Northwest and around the country, keep showing up.
“Every little thing you can do is throwing sand in the gears of the machine,” Cota said.
The scene that played out Saturday in Portland was one that’s grown increasingly familiar. Speakers spoke. Crowds clapped. People stood close together, hoisting signs emblazoned with slogans old (“Not My President”) and new (“Abolish ICE”).
Louisa Egan Brad was there with her young son, Raymond. She said becoming a mother has changed how she approaches protest and that family separations at the border sparked something new in her.
“I’m a parent,” Egan Brad said. “I’m a developmental psychologist, so I’m really concerned about the long-term effects on kids.”
Egan Brad was at the rally with her friend Maryam Ghaffari, who lives in Seattle.
Ghaffari is an Iranian immigrant and said she sees things like the travel ban and the zero tolerance policy as starting points for future policies far more nefarious.
“What I’m seeing happening is just one phase,” Ghaffari said. “Originally, there was the Muslim ban … that affected friends and family who couldn’t attend weddings. Now it’s the next group and then the next group and then the next group.”
The sentiment was similar in cities across Oregon. Rallies in Eugene, Roseburg, Salem, Astoria, Bend and other cities also drew large crowds.
The Northwest has been at the center of anti-Trump resistance since the election, but the latest furor over immigration has hit even closer to home for many.
ICE detainees are being held at a federal prison in Sheridan. Some migrant children separated from their parents have trickled into Northwest shelters. A tent encampment still surrounds the ICE facility in Portland.
It’s hard to tell how long this spike in the resistance driven by immigration policy will last. But what’s almost certain is that another wave will come.