Trump under fire

Thousands protest against immigration policy

02 July 2018 | International

From coast to coast, in the rain or under the burning sun, tens of thousands of Americans marched and rallied across the country to protest the Trump administration's “zero tolerance” immigration policy resulting in over 2 000 children separated from their families who crossed the border illegally.

It's was very hot in downtown Washington DC on Saturday, but that didn't stop thousands of protesters pouring into Lafayette Square facing the northern side of the White House.

They chanted “We care”, “keep families together” and other slogans slamming US President Donald Trump's tough immigration policy.

In Boston, Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren told a rally that “mothers have told me that at night, they believe they can still hear their children cry”.

“This is not about politics. This is about human beings.”

In the state of New Jersey, several hundred people gathered along a road a few miles away Trump's National Gold Course, where the president and his family are spending the weekend.

Protesters were holding signs with the messages, “Even the Trump family belongs together” and “Do you know where our children are?”

Organisers said about 630 Families Belong Together events had been planned across the whole country with Washington DC as the main protest venue, calling the rallies a forum for people to stand up to the president's controversial immigration policies.

“(The) family separation crisis is not over. We have a situation where the Trump administration seems to be aiming to detain families,” said Karthik Ganapathy, a spokesman.

On the West coast, more than 20 similar rallies took place across San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the San Francisco City Hall to speak out their strong opposition to Trump's “family separation” immigration policy.

The protesters, braving the scorching hot, marched in an endless row of crowd from downtown Market Street to City Hall.

They held posters with the messages “Families Belong together” “No One Is Illegal” and “Stop Torturing Children” and chanted slogans to express their rejection to the government's “inhuman” measures against immigrant families seeking asylum at the US-Mexican border.

“We take to the streets to call for an end to the human rights abuses by ICE officials and Trump's policy that cruelly separates children from their families,” one of the marchers said, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In San Jose, an economic, cultural, and political centre of Silicon Valley and the largest city in Northern California, thousands of people came together at City Hall and marched along the city to protest the separation of immigrant families.

The marchers, old and young, men and women, clapped their hands and chanted slogans “Vote him out! and “Si se puede! (Yes we can!)”.

They filled the sidewalks of the city to oppose the administration's actions in separating immigrant families.

The Trump administration's “zero-tolerance” policy dictates that all immigrants arriving US shores illegally should be handed in for prosecution and detained under federal custody, and that children traveling with their parents will be sent separately to the US Health and Human Services Department, where they are supervised by other family members, provided with shelters, or sent to foster homes.

As a result of the hardline policy, distraught children separated from their families, sparking domestic and global outrage.

Facing domestic and international backlash, Trump signed an executive order on 20 June reversing his policy of separating families, and replacing it with a policy of detaining entire families together, including children, but ignoring legal time limits on the detention of minors.

The Trump administration announced on Friday that it will now hold families together for longer than 20 days.

According to government figures, more than 2 300 minors were separated from their families after illegally crossing the US southern border with Mexico from 5 May through to 9 June.