Thousands of activists and protesters rallied in cities across the U.S. Saturday to defend illegal immigrants, individuals who entered the country in violation of U.S. law.
Demonstrators harshly criticized the Trump administration’s tough approach to illegal immigration outside a Homestead, Florida, detention facility and at a border patrol station in McAllen, Texas. These “Keep Families Together” rallies were held in San Diego and New York, among other locations.
The protests come amid concerns about the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policies and the separation of illegal immigrant families when they are apprehended entering the country at places other than designated points of entry.
In San Diego alone, there were reportedly more than 5,000 protesters present at the rally.
Around 9,000 families have been caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in each of the last three months, and more than 2,000 illegal immigrant children have been taken into federal custody in recent weeks.
Many observers have criticized the Trump administration, with many opponents of the administration’s policies comparing the detention facilities to Nazi concentration camps or Japanese internment camps.
“Family rights are human rights” and “Reunite the families” were among the signs seen at a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, where activists could be heard shouting, “No more baby jails.”
At the Border Patrol Central Processing Center in McAllen, protesters attempted to block a bus carrying illegal immigrant children. “Shame! Shame!” the demonstrators chanted as the bus eventually passed.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to prevent family separation by detaining families together during processing. The Trump administration still fully intends to prosecute all individuals who cross into the U.S. illegally.
Many fear that the Trump administration has no intention of reuniting families that have already been separated, despite reassurances from Health and Human Services.
HHS is, according to a spokeswoman, “bringing to bear all the relevant resources of the department in order to assist in the reunification or placement of unaccompanied alien children and teenagers with a parent or appropriate sponsor.”
Other critics remain dissatisfied with the revised approach, arguing that it is immoral to send families with children to detention centers. Proponents of tougher immigration policies, including the president, argue that these individuals simply want open borders.
“Democrats love open borders,” Trump argued at a recent event, adding, “They view that possibly intelligently except that it is destroying our country. They view that as potential someday, they’re going to go vote for Democrats.”
As protests and rallies were held in cities across the country Saturday, the president spoke to a crowd of supporters in Nevada, emphasizing the need for a new approach to the illegal immigration problem.
“Their issue is open borders, get MS-13 all over our country,” he explained, “We need people to come in, but they have to be people that love this country, can love our country, and can really help us to make America great again.”
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