By Bob Skolnik
Last August after white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, a Brookfield woman who grew up in Stafford, Virginia, was so disgusted she decided to organize a local peace vigil against hate at Eight Corners in Brookfield. About 20 to 25 people came out.
This year Jessica Garcia, whose husband Wilson came to the United States from Guatemala at the age of 2, decided to team up with Indivisible Brookfield, of which she is a member, to organize another vigil.
The focus of this year was to protest the now-discontinued policy of the Trump administration of separating children from their Central American parents who were seeking asylum in the United States. While the policy has ended, hundreds of children remain separated from their parents as a result of it.
"My husband is an immigrant," Garcia said. "A lot of people that I love near and dear are immigrants, and I just don't understand why we're so hateful and why we don't see the positive of immigration."
Nearly 25 people, including some elected officials, attended the roughly 30-minute vigil on Aug. 26 at Progress Park at Eight Corners.
In addition to Garcia, four others spoke at the vigil, including the Rev. Martha Daniels, senior pastor at Holy Covenant Metropolitan Community Church in Brookfield; The Rev. Karl Sokol of Brookfield's Compassion United Methodist Church; Justin Hanson, a write-in candidate for U.S. Congress in the 3rd District; and activist Betty Alzamora of PASO West Suburban Action Project, an immigrant rights group.
Hanson, who once worked for a couple of top congressional Republicans in the House of Representatives, decried the policy of separating children from their parents.
"This policy is not who we are," said Hanson, a lawyer who lives in LaGrange and recently announced his write in campaign.
Hanson is trying to chart a moderate position in his longshot bid for Congress, which he launched because he and many Republicans were embarrassed that white supremacist Art Jones is the Republican candidate after running unopposed in the primary.
Alzamora made the most pointed remarks, lighting into Gov. Bruce Rauner for vetoing last week three of five bills passed by the General Assembly to protect people who are in the United States illegally.
"No person is illegal," Alzamora said. "Illinois has to become a welcoming state and Illinois does not welcome his racist and white supremacist view of life."
Garcia said she believes it is important to act on the local level and said that it was important to vote in November. She moved to Brookfield three years ago.
"We love Brookfield," Garcia said. "We've been welcomed here. We love it here. It's a happy and loving community and let's get everyone together and show Chicagoland that we care."