Protests across US call for end to migrant family separations

Thousands of people rally in protest of the immigration policies at San Francisco City Hall in California, on June 30, 2018.
Thousands of people rally in protest of the immigration policies at San Francisco City Hall in California, on June 30, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - Protesters marched into Lafayette Square opposite the White House on Saturday (June 30) and chanted "families belong together" to counter President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policy.

They were joined in declaring that message by dozens of other rallies from New York to California.

Animated by what they view as the cruel treatment of migrants seeking refuge in the United States from violence in their home countries, the crowds turned out on Saturday bearing homemade signs that read "Abolish ICE" - the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency - and "Zero tolerance for family separation".

For two sisters, Ms Claudia Thomas and Ms Monica Escobar, the sight of immigrant children being taken from their parents hit close to home. When they were young, they immigrated to the United States from Guatemala, one of several Central American countries that is a source of migrants today.

They said they were out at Saturday's protest in the nation's capital to stand up for human decency.

While Washington was the political epicentre of the protests, similar scenes unfolded in large, border cities like El Paso, Texas; state capitals like Salt Lake City and Atlanta; and smaller, interior towns like Redding, California. In total, organisers anticipated more than 700 protests, in all 50 states.

The protests were largely peaceful, although there were a few arrests.

In Huntsville, Alabama, police said one man was arrested after he got into a scuffle with protesters and pulled out a handgun; no one was injured. In Columbus, Ohio, one person was arrested on a charge of obstructing official business, police said. And the Dallas Police Department said five people were arrested during a protest outside of an ICE building.

 

Otherwise, protesters caused few disturbances as they descended on statehouses and Immigration and Customs Enforcement buildings, and gathered in plazas and in parks, where they danced, chanted and sang. Many clutched signs with messages berating Mr Trump and his immigration policies.

Celebrities such as Kerry Washington, star of the hit ABC series "Scandal", and comedian Amy Schumer joined the protests in New York, and politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren joined the demonstration in Boston.

Creator of "Hamilton" Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alicia Keys, the singer-songwriter-pianist, performed in Washington.

In New York, protesters overflowed Foley Square in Lower Manhattan. At every intersection on the way to the central march location, clusters of people chanted, "When children are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!"