Hollywood, one of Donald Trump's chief agitators, is making noise to challenge his brutal zero tolerance policy, which has resulted in the widespread separation migrant children and parents at the border — as well as his flimsy executive order, which on Wednesday ended the policy of family separation without addressing a plan for reuniting families or the general practice of prosecuting and detaining migrants crossing the border.
On Sunday, a caravan of celebrities including Lena Dunham, Sia, Amber Heard, Bella Thorne, Mia Sorvino, Joshua Jackson, Constance Wu, Connie Britton and others traveled to the border city of Tornillo, Texas, the site of a temporary shelter for unaccompanied migrant minors, to express their outrage over the policy, BuzzFeed Newsreports.
They joined an #EndFamilyDetention protest that drew hundreds of demonstrators, organized by Voto Latino, a non-profit aimed at mobilizing Latinx voters to the polls.
Lena Dunham, who helped organize the chartering of a plane and bus from Los Angeles which transported the group to south Texas, wrote on Instagram:
Dawson's Creek actor Joshua Jackson shared a photo from the rally, writing: "This was 10:00 am in Tornillo, Texas. We were standing outside the detention facility where hundreds of children are being held in tents. It was already near 100 F out there."
The celebs, with the exception of filmmaker Rob Reiner, did not address the crowd, saving their thoughts for social media and leaving the floor to political leaders and activists, including Mexican-American civil rights legend, Dolores Huerta, former US secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, and Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy.
Westworld actress Evan Rachel Wood joined a separate, nearby protest on Sunday hosted by the #BreakBreadNotFamilies campaign at a detention facility in McAllen, Texas and participated in a 24-hour hunger-strike.
These border protests are a few among the hundreds of actions that have been held in in the past several weeks in response to the Trump administration policy which was enacted in mid-April, which demands the federal prosecution every individual caught crossing the border, including asylum-seekers who arrive with children. On Wednesday, responding to public condemnation, Trump signed an executive order that ended the policy of separating families, but leaves the practice of prosecuting and detaining migrants and their families in place, and fails to provide a substantial plan to reunite the more than 2,000 children who remain separated from their parents.
Amid public confusion over the status of Trump's policy, those in attendance including Lena Dunham and Sia made clear that protest in Tornillo was not only in response to the zero tolerance policy, but also to the insufficiency of Trump's executive order. Sia wrote on Twitter yesterday morning:
""Trump's signing of the executive order was a PR move, I am in Texas at tent city and nothing is different. There is no plan in place to reunite families.This is totally inhumane."
Sunday's protesters join a growing list of celebrities who have staked a claim in the issue of immigrant detention and family separation, making public donations and statements, including Bruce Springsteen (who went off book last weekend at his Broadway show to condemn Trump's policy), Chrissy Teigan and John Legend, Anne Hathaway, Sara Bareilles, Ellen DeGeneres, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Mandy Moore, Oprah, Alyssa Milano, Patton Oswalt and many more.
Celebrity activism has been the subject of a great deal of media hand-wringing over the past several years as political causes have gone in and out of fad: about who is speaking up when, about what, in what ways and if they will genuinely make a difference.
While there's little consensus about the most appropriate or effective way for celebs to speak up, something between doing literally nothing with their immense power and resources, and saying foolish things on television seems in order. The reversal of the Trump administration's policy of separating parents and children, and its developing efforts to reunite migrant families has been widely credited to deafening public outrage, which voices like Sunday's protestors' have increased significantly in volume.