Thousands of Americans have staged demonstrations across the country to protest against US President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration that separated children from migrant parents on the US-Mexico border.
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Thousands of Americans young and old took to the streets of US cities Saturday to say "Families Belong Together" nearly two months after the Trump administration implemented its "zero tolerance" policy toward undocumented immigrants, prompting the separation of thousands of children from their parents.
The main rally was in Washington, DC, but hundreds of marches, protests and rallies took place across the country in cities like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, Denver, Miami, St. Louis, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where crowds called for the immediate reunification of migrant families and an end to family detentions and separations.
According to organizers, protesters have three demands:
• They want separated migrant families to be reunited immediately.
• They want the government to end family detentions.
• And they want the Trump administration to end its zero tolerance policy.
Attendees in Washington braved the summer heat and marched from Lafayette Square to the White House -- though the President is at his golf resort in New Jersey -- and down Pennsylvania Avenue, past the Trump Hotel, where chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" broke out.
In Atlanta, demonstrators carried cages with dolls inside, and marchers in Chicago encouraged each other to "fight back."
Protesters in Houston chanted, "No baby jails," outside City Hall. Farther to the south, crowds gathered in McAllen, Texas, the border town where one of the Customs and Border Protection agency's processing detention centers sits.
Several celebrities joined the rally in Los Angeles, like singer-songwriter John Legend, who sang his song "Preach," and Cher, who encouraged people to go vote in November.
Many attendees carried signs, some demanding a change to the administration's policy, others celebrating the contributions that immigrants make to the country.
"We are all immigrants," one said. "Seeking safety is not a crime," said another. "Let our children dream. Let them go!" a sign in Washington said.
And there were plenty of signs and shirts declaring, "I really do care, do u?" -- a dig at the jacket first lady Melania Trump wore while departing for a trip to the southwest border last week.
Rachel Gregory, 39, was one 575 activists arrested Thursday during a protest at a US Senate office building.
She said she brought her 5-year-old son, Aaron, to Saturday's protest in Washington to show him she doesn't want to be a part of an America like that. She said the policy indicates the country has "no morals," adding that "the GOP claims to be pro-life but is stealing babies from their family."
But Saturday's protests drew people from both sides of the aisle.
"It's unconscionable, immoral. None of the words are quite strong enough," said Allison Thompson, 49, a lawyer from Fayetteville, North Carolina. She said she was a registered Republican attending her first protest.
"Separating a child from a parent -- as a parent -- is the most inhumane thing ever," the mother of two said. "There is just nothing worse to me."
More than 2,500 undocumented children were separated from their parents in the weeks since the zero-tolerance policy took effect. Under the policy, any adult caught crossing the border illegally faced prosecution, and their children were sent to federal shelters all over the United States.
Outrage over the separations has been at a fever pitch for weeks. The anger hasn't abated either, even after President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 reversing the family separation policy.
Six days after that order was signed, only six children had been reunited with their parents -- meaning more than 2,000 children were still in limbo, feeding the furor and raising questions about whether the government actually has a plan to reunify families.
A federal judge this week ordered a halt to most family separations at the border and the reunification of families. Within 14 days, children under 5 were to be back with their parents, and within 30 days, children 5 and older were to be reunited with theirs.
But Families Belong Together protesters don't want to wait.
Event organizers said Saturday's protests were about addressing an ethical issue.
"This is not left or right," said Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org, one of the organizations leading Saturday's protests. "It is right and wrong."
Galland said she and US Rep. Pramila Jayapal put out a call for protests less than two weeks ago, and they were "overwhelmed" by the response.
Rallies were to take place in 750 cities big and small all over the country, Galland said.