Marches are underway across cities in the U.S. to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Hundreds of thousands of protesters could attend more than 700 marches in cities from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Dozens of progressive groups planned the ‘Families Belong Together’ protests on Saturday including the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Move On and the Women’s March. They are demanding the Trump administration end family separations, end family detentions and reverse its zero tolerance policy.
The Department of Health and Human Services has said it is holding more than 2,000 unaccompanied children. Earlier this week, 17 states and Washington D.C. sued to force the Trump administration to reunite immigrant families.
“You have people fleeing persecution and violence, put into military bases as if they’re Osama Bin Laden or something,” said Faiz Shakir, the national political director at ACLU.
“Its something that happens in other countries”
Protesters in New York City who shared the reasons why they marched in the sweltering heat Saturday. The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat advisory as the temperatures reached the mid-90s.
“It’s painful and you think about it as something that happens in other countries and not America,” said Margaret Rimsky Richards.
Dr. Steve Auerbach, who works as a pediatrician in Manhattan, said he’s concerned about a generation of migrants. “Doing this causes permanent physical and mental health harm to children,” he said. “This is child abuse. This is torture and as a mandatory reporter, I am hereby reporting it.”
Singer John Legend performed a new song called ‘Preach’ during a rally in Los Angeles on Saturday. Legend encouraged the crowd to take action toward immigration reform before his performance.
“You can’t just talk about it or tweet about it,” he said. “You’ve got to do something.”
Actress Diane Guerrero spoke during the Washington rally Saturday and shared the story of her parents’ deportation, who were sent back to Colombia 17 years ago.
“I am here today as a woman who as a young child was separated from her family. I am here today to be painfully honest about the damage these government policies do to human beings and to kids,” she said.
She continued, “Once my family was taken, I became fully aware that my community matters less to some people. That we are treated differently because of the color of our skin or where our parents were born.”
Guerrero is best known for her roles on ‘Orange Is the New Black’ and ‘Jane the Virgin’.
Protesters marched near President Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is spending his weekend. The demonstrators gathered on a street corner near the property waving signs that read: ‘Do you know where our children are?’ and ‘Even the Trump family belongs together’.
It’s unclear if President Trump was aware of the protests.
Photos showed large crowds packed in downtown Chicago’s Daley Plaza on Saturday.
Margo Chavez-Easley carried a sign that read: ‘What lengths would you go for your children?!?’
Chavez said she immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala with her mother when she was 9 years old.
“To be an immigrant and an American, I feel a mix of pride and shame,” Chavez-Easley said. “That’s a child’s biggest fear is to lose their mom and dad.”
“I don’t understand why they are being so mean to us children”
Leah, a 12-year-old girl from Miami, addressed the D.C. crowd Saturday with a powerful speech about the fear of being seperated from her family. “I don’t understand why they are being so mean to us children,” she said. “Don’t they know how much we love our families? Don’t they have a family, too?”
“I live with the constant fear of losing my mom to deportation. My mom is strong, beautiful and brave. She is also a person who taught me how to speak up when I see things that aren’t fair,” she added.
At the D.C. rally, singer Alicia Keys and actress America Ferrera read letters from families who have been separated from children. Keys said her 7-year-old son Egypt was with her at the protest in D.C. and she couldn’t imagine not being able to find him.
“I couldn’t imagine being separated from him … or scared about how he is being treated. So, this is all of our fight, because if it can happen to any child, it can happen to my child and your child and all of our children,” Keys said.
She read a letter from a woman whose son is being held in a Portland, Oregon, detention center. Ferrera then read a letter from a grandfather fighting to be reunited with his granddaughter.
“I want you to imagine that this is your child, that you are this grandfather,” Ferrera said. She said the last time the grandfather spoke to her she said she was feeling desperate. He told her not to lose hope.
More than 15,000 people turned out to the protests in New York City. Thousands of people began showing up since 10 a.m. Saturday morning to protest family separations.
Protesters marched from the courthouse in downtown Manhattan and made their way across the Brooklyn Bridge to join another rally in Brooklyn.
Many families brought their own children to make a point. They said they want people to see these young faces because they are the same age of children in detention centers across the U.S.
In New York City, thousands began chanting ‘shame!’ and singing ‘shut detention down!’. This was the precuror to the protestors’ planned march across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Crowds gathered in sweltering 86-degree morning heat on Saturday at a Manhattan park before a planned march across the Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, near the federal courthouse. The crowd provided a refrain of ‘shame’ as an organizer ran down a list of people marchers are blaming for the family separations.
Among their targets: President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the agencies Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.
Hundreds of protesters have gathered in Washington, D.C., to attend a star-studded rally featuring speakers including Lin Manuel Miranda, Alicia Keys and America Ferrera.
“We need to vote because when we vote we win. America and I want you to join us to say we are not backing down!” Keys said.