Hundreds of thousands of protesters—from small towns along the Mexico border to hubs like New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.—assembled in a mass display of resistance to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies on Saturday (June 30).
Driven by the administration’s "zero tolerance" immigration policies that have culminated in thousands of family separations along the United States-Mexico border, protestors in some 700 marches held signs reading, "No more children in cages" and "Abolish ICE," in reference to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Thousands gathered in Lafayette Square, in Washington, D.C., then marched past the White House and Trump International Hotel. Similar scenes played out in every state, as protestors shouted, "Families belong together!"
"We came to the United States seeking help, and we never imagined that this could happen. So I beg everyone, please release these children, give my son back to me," a Brazilian mother, separated from her 10-year-old son a month ago, said at a rally in Boston.
"We have three main demands,” Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org, which helped organize the rally in Washington D.C., told The Washington Post. “Reunite families now, end family internment camps and end the zero-humanity policy that created this humanitarian crisis and chaos in the first place."
A lawsuit filed on Friday (June 29) on behalf of immigrant children seeking asylum alleges that children are being held unconstitutionally in inhumane conditions. The class action suit, filed on behalf of minors from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, says the Department of Health and Human Services‘ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is wrongfully medicating children and denying their release to family members.
The suit reads:
ORR confines children to jail-like settings without affording them a meaningful or timely opportunity to be heard regarding the reasons for such placement; prolongs children’s detention on the ground that their parents or other available custodians are or may be unfit, while affording neither detained children nor their proposed custodians a meaningful or timely opportunity to be heard regarding a proposed custodian’s fitness; places children in facilities in which it knows they will be administered powerful psychotropic medications without procedural safeguards; and blocks lawyers from representing detained children with respect to placement, administration of psychotropic medications, or release to available custodians.
Last week, a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration must stop its family separation policy, giving the federal government one month to reunite roughly 2,300 children with their parents. Children under age 5, the judge ruled, must be reunited within 14 days, and federal officials must take steps to facilitate communication between parents and children held in ORR custody.
In New York on Saturday, immigration protestors shouted "shame" as they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge in stifling heat. Drivers honked their horns in support. Hundreds of similar protests were held in cities like El Paso, Louisville and Nashville.
In Marshalltown, Iowa, Steve Adelmund, a father of two, took to the streets after watching news reports of family separations on Father’s Day.
"If we can’t come together under the idea of, ‘Kids shouldn’t be taken from their parents,’ where are we?" he asked The Associated Press. "We have to speak out now while we can, before we can’t."