(NEW YORK) — Thousands of people marched in cities across the United States protesting the separation migrant at the Mexican border as part of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on unauthorized immigration.
From Raleigh, North Carolina to Anchorage, Alaska, there were approximately 700 marches under the banner of “Families Belong Together,” decrying the separation of children from parents, who had been detained after crossing the border. Some marchers held handmade signs with messages such as “Cruelty = Kids in cages” and”Deport Racism.”
In Washington D.C. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Broadway musical hit “Hamilton,” sang a lullaby dedicated to parents weren’t around to sing to their children.
Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys was at the rally with her 7-year-old son Egypt and recited a letter written by a woman whose child had been taken away from her at the border.
“If it can happen to any child, it can happen to my child, and your child, and all of our children,” she said.
And a 12-year-old migrant daughter named Lea stood tall in front of a crowd assembled in Lafayette Square — across the street from the White House — pleading for “change.”
For his part, President Donald Trump was spending the weekend at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Lea said that each day she fears I.C.E. agents may “take away my mom from me.”
“I don’t like to live with this fear,” she said. “I can’t sleep. I can’t study. I’m stressed.
“I’m afraid they will take away my mom while she is at work, out driving or at home.”
The youth blamed the Trump administration for failing to “support mothers who just want a better life for their children.”
The emotional child hoped that this fear of deportation that she dreads every day will be lifted.
“We are children,” Lea said, directing her words at fellow migrant kids in a similar plight as hers. “Our government has to do the right thing and stop separating us from our parents and stop locking us up.”
Theadministration’s policy of “zero tolerance” was originally aimed at deterring people crossing the border illegally.
Then Trump, under growing pressure from clergy and even fellow Republicans who opposed the measures, signed an executive order to amend part of his policy and would keep together immigrant families attempting to enter the country illegally at the border.
“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” Trump said at the time he signed the order.
Until Trump made the unilateral move, migrants who illegally crossed the border awaited trial and their children were being separated from them and detained in a separate facility. This week, the Trump administration also halted the practice of turning over parents to prosecutors for charges of illegally entering the country.
The policy, set forth by President Donald Trump and implemented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions since May and has caused hundreds of families to be estranged.
According to the Associated Press, about 500 of the more than 2,300 children separated from families have been reunited since May. How many of the approximately 500 children were still detained with their families wasn’t clear.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told ABC News recently that the “changing conditions” at the border have allowed for agents to “enforce the law by prosecuting” but that “keeping families together and having that child welfare paramount, is important.”
He noted that much of the attention has been at the border, but that there is a need to also look at “what’s happening on the Central American side” and how these migrant families are often “in the hands of Mexican cartels, dangerous organizations” when they make a decision to flee their country for the U.S.
In downtown Chicago, thousands of marchers bearing signs and chanting together against the Trump administration’s policies.
“What’s next? Concentration Camps?” one marcher’s sign read, according to ABC station WLS.
“I care, do you?” read another, a dig at First Lady Melania Trump who sported a beige coat that retailed at $39, with the screed “I really don’t care. Do U?” on its back before heading to McAllen, Texas, for a visit to the Upbring New Hope Children’s Center, which houses 55 migrant children.
“We care!” was the chorus heard outside city hall in Dallas, Texas.
Marchers there carried signs that read: “Compassion not cruelty” and “November is coming.”
There were marchers at the border in El Paso, Texas.
In Denver, Colorado, protesters came out in heavy numbers as well.
In New York City, thousands were spotted in a sea of white marching downtown denouncing Trump as they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge chanting: “Shame!” and singing “Shut detention down!” and “Donald Trump must go!”
Gridlocked drivers were seen honking their horns in apparent solidarity.
Celebrities were on-hand on Saturday a march in downtown Los Angeles.
Singer John Legend performed his new song “Preach.”
He was joined by Eugenio Derbez, Laverne Cox and Taboo as well as politicians Sen. Kamala Harris, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the state’s Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
In Boston, Massachusetts, politicians U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Joe Kennedy III partook in a morning march from City Hall to Boston Common.
Rep. John Lewis was part of a march in Atlanta, Georgia to praise attendees causing “good trouble, necessary trouble” in trying to keep the pressure on the administration’s immigration policy.
“The world is crying with us,” Lewis told the crowd. “We must show the world that we are better than what is going on in America today.”
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