Climate change, immigration and energy were all topics for discussion when U.S. Sen. Ed Markey held a town hall meeting before a packed audience at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Markey, a Democrat and Massachusetts congressman for 37 years before taking over John Kerry’s Senate seat in 2013, spoke at length about his attempts to push back against policies enacted by the Trump administration. He called the family separation crisis at the U.S./Mexico border “systematic child abuse” and said he plans to visit detention centers over the next week to meet with those affected and find solutions for reuniting children with their parents.

“This is an issue I’m going to insistently, persistently and consistently push for,” Senator Markey said.

During a question-and-answer period, he elaborated on his climate change policies including a bill that he’s written calling for 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050.

“This is not a pie in the sky, tree hugging fantasy,” Mr. Markey said. “It’s already happening.”

He ended with a call for voters to stay active in the run-up to the November mid-term elections, describing Massachusetts a place where many political movements began.

Before the town hall began, Senator Markey sat down with members of the press and discussed a few issues facing the Island, including the status of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth and plans to build an offshore wind farm south of the Vineyard. Pilgrim is scheduled to be decommissioned next year, but Mr. Markey recognized the need to address ongoing safety concerns.

“We need to have an ongoing focus on the plant even after it’s retired to ensure that spent fuel that is going to remain on site is not vulnerable to a terrorist attack or flooding which could contribute to a catastrophic event,” he said.

He said wind farms pose hope for the future as a course of clean renewable energy but he also recognized the need to avoid negative impacts on the fishing industry.

As he wrapped up his talk later, he told the Hebrew center audience that he had only visited the Vineyard twice, but said he hopes to make more trips in the future.

“I’m honored to be your U.S. Senator,” he said. “One of the things I know about the U.S. Constitution is I now have a constitutional responsibility to come to Martha’s Vineyard over and over again, which I take.”