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Hundreds of thousands join nationwide rallies to protest Trump's immigration policy

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

Hundreds of thousands join nationwide rallies to protest Trump's immigration policy

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

01 July 2018 Sunday 15:20
Hundreds of thousands join nationwide rallies to protest Trump's immigration policy

WASHINGTON

From coast to coast, in the rain or under the burning sun, tens of thousands of people took to the streets across America on Saturday 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.

Organizers said about 630 Families Belong Together events had been planned across the whole country with Washington D.C. 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 MoveOn.org spokesman.

It's very hot in downtown Washington D.C., but that hasn't stopped 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 U.S. President Donald Trump's tough immigration policy. 

"This country is built on immigrants, that's where our strength comes from. When our president violates that, we all need to get out in the streets and protest and change that immediately," a female protester who identified herself as Scheiner told Xinhua at Lafayette Square.   

"Immigrants are the backbone of this country ... the minute we turn away immigrants, we weaken ourselves," she said.

In immigrants-friendly New York, thousands of people also braved intense heat to march across the Brooklyn Bridge.

The marchers clapped hands and chanted slogans to speak out their outrage over the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy. 

"It is infinitely more important that we're taking the moment and the time to address what's happening," Yanira Castro, 47, a Puerto Rican, who moved to the United States at the age of eight and works as an artist in New York, told Xinhua. 

Holding a banner, reading "family separation is the oldest form of state terror," Castro took her 10-year-old son, to join the protest.

While U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order ending the policy to separate parents and children at the border, most children haven't been reunited with their parents, marchers noted.

"This is a very cruel and inhuman attitude that's dominating the American politics now," Maddy, who took her 18-month-old baby to protest, told Xinhua.

"Children belong to school, belong to playground, not the cages," read one protester's message.   

"Families belong together and FREE!" read another. emocratic Senator Elizabeth Warren joined a rally in Boston.

"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," she said.

In the state of New Jersey, several hundred people gathered along a road a few miles away from Trump's National Golf 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?"

On the West coast, similar rallies took place across big cities and small towns, including Los Angeles, 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 the 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. 

"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 center of Silicon Valley, thousands of people gathered at City Hall and marched along the city to protest the separation of immigrant families.

In Los Angeles, thousands of people gathered in front of the City Hall and marched toward the Federal Detention Center, highlighting the voices of immigrants and refugees. Holding banners and signs "Accept immigrants reject ignorance," "End family detention," and "United we stand," protesters called for the U.S. government to reunify the children with their parents as well as to end the "zero-tolerance" policy and family detention.

"It feels great, it shows the strength and the core of what this country is all about," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told Xinhua.

"We are Jews, this happens to our people several generations ago, so it's our obligation to be here and support other families that are going through this horrible moment. Be awake and aware so that we can hopefully fight for change and treat everyone with the dignity and respect that they deserve," one of the protesters, Kim, told Xinhua. 

"I feel like if we keep marching and keep trying that our voices are going to be heard and we're going to make a difference," marcher Ivy told Xinhua.

The Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy dictates that all immigrants arriving U.S. 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 U.S. 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 June 20 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 U.S. southern border with Mexico from May 5 through June 9.

"Every day, this administration threatens the very future of our communities. The conditions these children are being subjected to is deplorable and un-American," organizers wrote on the Facebook event for the march in New York. 

Xinhua

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