“Families belong together” that is the theme of protests being organised throughout the United States this weekend against the zero tolerance immigration policy of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Under the initial iteration of the policy more than 2000 children were separated from their parents will be attempting to cross the southern border into the United States and while the policy has since been walked back, thousands of children have yet to be returned to their families.
Earlier this week a federal judge ordered the separation of children at the border to be stopped and that they be reunited with their families within 30 days.
The San Diego District Judge granted the American Civil Liberties Union a preliminary injunction, additionally ordering that children younger than five be reunited with their families within 14 days.
The Executive Order signed by President Trump mandating families entering the country illegally now be detained together, has not quelled the anger with several hundred protestors occupying the U.S. Senate building in Washington Thursday.
A mother of six from North Carolina, Yuri Olivarez says: “Kids are not doing this, you know? They don’t have a choice. They’re coming with parents for the parents to give them a better life. I mean, I know lots of people that are from Mexico, and they’ve been here since they were babies, you know? I mean, babies can’t come here by themselves. They just didn’t have a choice. They came.”
A trip to Los Angeles by Attorney General Jeff Sessions sparked protests as the outcry spread from coast to coast. Nicole Sabourian was among the protestors.
“My heart is broken for these families. I have An 18 month old and imagining these kids separated from their families is just more than anything I can, I can fathom. It’s terrorism. It’s torture. All of us that are here that if we are not Native Americans. We are also immigrants. This is so backwards. It’s so embarrassing. It’s the worst parts of our history repeating itself and I can’t do much. But I can show up – it is all that I can do as a mother of a toddler where I am in my life. I wish I could do more.”
A resident of Los Angeles, Sara O’Keefe says: “Those who are coming into our country deserve our compassion and they are coming from circumstances that they believe they cannot stay in and we should not be taking them and splitting families up and we should be making an effort to reunite those that we’ve split up, we should be reuniting them and making a definite effort to ensure that mothers and fathers can be with their children.”
Vice President Mike Pence also travelled to Guatemala City this week to deliver a firm message from the administration to the President’s of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras – three major source countries of migrants to the United States.
“President Donald Trump sent me here today, because the United States faces another crisis on our southern border, and I am sad to report to the presidents gathered here that the vast majority of those entering our country illegally are from your countries.
“As we discussed, the numbers are staggering. Since the start of this year, more than 150,000 Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans have left their homes and made the often dangerous journey to the southern border of the United States, and sought to enter our country illegally. While many claim asylum, few are fleeing persecution. Among this flood of illegal migrants are human traffickers, and violent gang members, like MS-13. But most are making the journey seeking economic opportunity, driven by the misguided belief that they can ignore the laws of the United States and enter our nation without consequences. I say with great respect for the presidents gathered here – this exodus must end,” Pence explained.
More than 600 protests are expected nationwide Saturday as well as some international locations with hundreds of thousands expected to take the streets in just the latest round of mass mobilisation against President Trump, his administration and its policies.
The main protests will be held in Washington DC where some 300 000 people are expected to show up.