The Trump administration has attempted to quell national outrage about the thousands of parents and children who have recently been forcibly separated at the southern border, but protesters across the country aren’t letting up the pressure anytime soon.
Amid increasing backlash, President Trump announced on Wednesday that his administration would halt the process of separating families at the border, which stemmed from a harsh “zero-tolerance” policy toward border-crossers that Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in April. But major uncertainty remains.
For one, the administration is still pursuing a “zero-tolerance” policy that threatens to replace family separation with indefinite family detention. For another, it’s still completely unclear what steps the government will take to reunite thousands of kids who were taken from their parents, and what resources will be made available to distraught parents attempting to navigate a sea of bureaucratic red tape separating them from their children — some as young as just a few months old.
In response, protesters are mobilizing in cities across the country, and particularly along the southern border, to rally against the administration’s immigration policies.
Hundreds of people flooded the streets of Santa Barbara on Wednesday night, saying Trump’s policy reversal that day didn’t change the imperative to speak out. “There is still so much wrong that it would be ridiculous to call off the event,” Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, one of the event’s organizers, told local press.
A bipartisan coalition of U.S. mayors gathered in a Texas border town on Thursday morning to speak out against Trump’s immigration crackdown, which they characterized as a “humanitarian crisis.”
“There are more than 2,300 children — some as young as 8 months-old — who are frightfully alone and must be reunited with their parents as soon as possible, and there is no clear answer as to how this will be done and how quickly,” said Steve Benjamin, Columbia, South Carolina’s mayor and one of the primary organizers of the event. “The president’s indecision and erratic policymaking has impacted and, frankly, traumatized thousands of lives.”
In Los Angeles, dozens of protesters set up camp outside a detention center on Friday night, singing and shining flashlights to help the immigrants detained inside the building feel supported.
Members of Congress also aren’t backing down.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Friday visited a detention center in Southern California housing mothers who have been separated from their children. Joining a crowd of hundreds of protesters gathered outside the facility, she told the assembled crowd she was “deeply disturbed” by what she saw inside.
“What are we going to do about it?” Harris said. “And I say we stand up, and speak up, we shout, we march to make sure these families and these children and these babies have a voice and this administration be forced to face their hypocrisy.”
More than two dozen other Democratic lawmakers plan to visit detention centers in Texas this weekend, reports the Associated Press.