People from all walks of life across the United States took to the streets in large numbers to protest against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and family separations as part of the “Families Belong Together” march.
The epicentre of the demonstration was Lafayette Square, near the White House in Washington D.C., where scores of citizens are demanding immediate reunification of migrant families and calling for an end to family separations and detentions.
The demonstrators wore white clothes as a sign of ‘unity’ and chanted anti-Trump slogans such as “Shame” and carried banners which read – “Deport Trump, Reunite Families” and “asylum seekers are not criminals,” CNN reported.
The protesters are demanding the administration to withdraw the “Zero Tolerance Policy” and to end separation and detention of migrant families.
A 34-year-old protestor in Washington D.C., Jose Flores said that his father entered the US illegally from Guatemala over three decades ago.
“With a little luck and some persistence he was able to get his papers and brought us to the USA in 1987. He passed away in 2000 as a homeowner, business owner and citizen,” Flores told CNN.
“That is why I march today, to honour his sacrifice. And to teach my daughter of the same sacrifice,” he added.
A 19-year-old protester, MacKenzie Banks was seen carrying a poster that read – “If these children lived in my uterus would y’all start caring” at the demonstration in Washington D.C.
“I am protesting in D.C. today because I cannot turn a blind eye to the clear human rights abuses brought forth by this administration. They deserve to be held accountable for the atrocities they are committing against our brothers and sisters,” Banks said.
Elsewhere across the US, demonstrators in Atlanta carried cages with baby dolls kept inside.
In Houston, at a rally outside the City Hall, protesters chanted – “No baby jails.”
In other cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, demonstrators carried signs reading – “Donald Trump must go!” and “What’s next? Concentration Camps?”.
In New Jersey, about 200 people assembled on Route 206 in New Jersey to protest against Trump’s immigration policies as the US President arrived here to spend the weekend in a golf club, The Hill reported.
Over 700 rallies were planned to be held in all the 50 states of the US on Saturday. Organisers said the main march in Washington D.C. saw a turnout of about 30,000 people, less than what they had expected.
Various organisations such as American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International, the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center are backing the protests that are happening across the US.
On June 28, a sit-in protest called #WomenDisobey was held to oppose Trump’s immigration policies at the Hart Senate Office building on Capitol Hill.
The event was trending on social media, wherein the demonstrators used the hashtag – #FamiliesBelongTogether.
On a related note, the US Capitol Police arrested 575 people, including a congresswoman for “unlawfully protesting” against Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy, which treats illegal border crossings as criminal offences.
On June 28, Melania visited an immigrant holding facility in Tucson, Arizona during her visit to the US-Mexico border region for the second time in a week.
Trump signed an executive order to “keep families together” on June 20, amid the massive backlash over his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.
The US president defended his policy of separating children from their families who have been illegally crossing the southern US-Mexico border, saying, to prosecute parents for illicit entry, “you have to take the children away.”
In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new zero-tolerance policy on the border to prosecute immigrants for entering the country illegally.
By virtue of this policy, families who crossed together illegally would in some cases be separated, prompting a sweeping outcry from Democrats and immigration advocates.
Nearly 2,000 children were taken away from their parents in a six-week period in April and May under the new Trump administration policy, according to several media reports.
Parents have since been arrested and placed in quick federal court proceedings near the border, while children are placed in shelters.