The voices of thousands of people rang nationwide on Saturday calling for the reunification of hundreds of children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Protesters chanted, “Shut detention down!” as they marched in New York City’s Foley Square, while in El Paso, Texas, hundreds marched toward the Paso Del Norte (Santa Fe) Bridge, which crosses into Juarez, Mexico. More than 600 events were planned across the country.
“We’re here because there are parents out there who can’t sing lullabies to their kids, so we’re going to sing on their behalf until they can sing together,” Tony-winning actor Lin-Manuel Miranda told a crowd in the nation’s capital.
Miranda, the creator of the musical “Hamilton,” sang a lullaby dedicated to parents who are unable to sing to their children.
From immigrant-friendly cities like New York City and Los Angeles to conservative Appalachia and Wyoming, protesters are rallying under the Families Belong Together banner, pushing against Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, which has seen some 2,000 families separated after crossing illegally into the U.S. from Mexico.
“I’m hoping that decent human beings come together, and enough is enough, we’re taking out country back over, that evil is not going to prevail,” said Patricia Carlan, a grandmother of nine from Danville, Indiana, among hundreds who gathered at her state’s capital.
Across the country, thousands waved signs: “I care, do you?” some read, referencing a jacket the first lady wore when visiting child migrants amid the global furor over the administration’s zero-tolerance policy, which forced the separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents.
Her jacket had “I really don’t care, do U?” scrawled across the back, and that message has become a rallying cry for Saturday’s protesters.
In Washington, D.C., a woman identified only as Jocelyn said she and her son spent nine months apart. “During that time I was told that he could be put up for adoption,” she said through a translator. “I was terrified that I might never see him again.”
Smaller groups came together in city parks and downtown squares in every state, a total of 703 places across the country, and photos quickly started ricocheting around social media.
Some carried tiny white onesies. “What if it was your child?” was written on one. “No family jails,” said another.
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Children joined in. A little girl in Washington, D.C., carried a handwritten sign: “I get my mommy. Why can’t she?”
Dallas protest organizer Michelle Wentz says opposition to the policy has seemed to cross political party lines. She called it a “barbaric and inhumane” policy.
The protests come after several weeks of demonstrations across the country — many outside detention centers nationwide.
Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, welcomed interest in the immigration system and said only Congress has the power to change the law.
Trump said Democrats “are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen.”
“We appreciate that these individuals have expressed an interest in and concern with the critical issue of securing our nation’s borders and enforcing our immigration laws,” Houlton said. “As we have indicated before, the department is disappointed and frustrated by our nation’s disastrous immigration laws and supports action.”
Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to show his support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid calls from some Democrats for major changes to immigration enforcement.
Tweeting from New Jersey, Trump said that Democrats “are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen.”
He urged ICE agents to “not worry or lose your spirit.”
Saturday’s rallies are getting funding and support from the American Civil Liberties Union, MoveOn.org, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and The Leadership Conference.
But local organizers are shouldering on-the-ground planning, many of them women relying on informal networks established during worldwide women’s marches on Trump’s inauguration and its anniversary.
This Fox News piece is used by permission; the Associated Press contributed.
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