Thousands across U.S. join ‘Keep Families Together’ march to protest family separation

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Hundreds of marches will take place across the United States on Saturday as thousands of people demand the Trump administration reunite families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

More than 600 marches are planned, according to The Associated Press, from liberal, immigrant-friendly cities like New York City and Los Angeles to more conservative regions like Appalachia and Wyoming. American expats even gathered across from the U.S. consulate in Munich, Germany.

The protests, marching under the banner “Families Belong Together,” are hoping to push the Trump administration to reunite thousands of immigrant children separated from their families after crossing into the United States.

More than 2,300 children were taken from their families in recent weeks under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy in which people entering the U.S. illegally face being prosecuted. But after public outcry earlier this month, President Donald Trump ordered that the families crossing into the country illegally no longer be separated.

However, more than 2,000 children still remain separated from their parents. Saturday’s marches hope to put pressure on the administration to reunify these families as quickly as possible.

Image: Immigration protests New York
Demonstrators participate in “Keep Families Together” march to protest Trump administration’s immigration policy in Manhattan, New York on June 30, 2018.Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Cristina Jimenez, co-founder and Executive Director of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country, hopes the Families Belong Together march will mobilize the fight against the administration’s criminalization of immigrant communities.

“This is the critical moment to mobilize the community, mobilize the entire country and people of conscience who are looking at the media and understanding more of what this country is doing, particularly ICE and deportation agents, and we want to take a stand together with the rest of the country,” Cristina Jimenez, co-founder and executive director of United We Dream, largest immigrant youth-led network in the country, told NBC News.

Jimenez said her organization is asking “congress to stop Trump’s deportation force and ensuring that as the administration asks for more money to target community with Ice and border patrol agents, we say no and abolish and defund them.”

Trump was already tweeting about immigration in the hours leading up to the march, referencing a growing call from immigration advocates to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“The Democrats are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen. I have watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13 & clean out the toughest of situations. They are great!” Trump tweeted.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump urged the men and women of ICE not to worry about the ongoing calls to abolish the department.

“You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements. So brave! The radical left Dems want you out. Next it will be all police. Zero chance, It will never happen!” he wrote.

Rallies against Trump’s immigration policy have sprung up in the weeks since its implementation, but Saturday’s could be among the largest yet and have received funding and support from the American Civil Liberties Union, MoveOn.org, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and The Leadership Conference. Local organizers have coordinated on-the-ground planning, and many have relied on informal networks established during worldwide women’s marches on Trump’s inauguration and its anniversary.

Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, welcomed interest in the immigration system and said only Congress has the power to change the law.

“We appreciate that these individuals have expressed an interest in and concern with the critical issue of securing our nation’s borders and enforcing our immigration laws,” Houlton said. “As we have indicated before, the department is disappointed and frustrated by our nation’s disastrous immigration laws and supports action.”

Immigrant advocacy groups say they’re thrilled — and surprised — to see the issue gaining traction among those not tied to immigration.

“Honestly, I am blown away. I have literally never seen Americans show up for immigrants like this,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, political director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which represents nannies, housekeepers and caregivers, many of whom are immigrants. “We just kept hearing over and over again, if it was my child, I would want someone to do something.”





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