Despite President Donald Trump signing executive orders to reverse his immigration policy that separated children from their parents and families, activists have continued to organize a nationwide effort for a protest to highlight the separation of relatives caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
A rally is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, June 30 in Lafayette Square in D.C, across the street from the White House.
Sister marches reportedly are expected in other cities across the country to protest the White House’s immigration policies.
Civil rights leaders, lawmakers and citizens’ groups have blasted the president for the policy that’s been compared with the practice of slave owners separating parent and child.
And even with the executive order, most remain skeptical as video, audio and other reports continue to pour in that show crying children and horrified parents in immigration detention centers.
“The separation of children from their parents at the border is not only cruel and inhumane but is evidence of a morally bankrupt administration,” said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League. “America’s promise to those who greet its borders and shores is one of opportunity and access to a better life. Instead, our government has met these families with traumatizing forced separation.”
During a rally at the Capitol, the Rev. Al Sharpton called Trump’s policy “dehumanizing” and akin to the days of slavery.
Others readily agreed.
“Ripping children from their parents is an immoral and horrific human rights violation. There is simply no law requiring the separation of families and the detention of young children,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “Reviving an old ploy, Bible verses are once again being incorrectly used to defend government oppression as was done to justify the atrocities of slavery. Have we not learned anything from history?”
From October 2017 to May 2018, more than 2,700 children have been separated from their parents and the rate of those separations have risen alarmingly in the past six weeks alone when at least 1,995 children have been taken from their parents and placed in shelter facilities that are already nearing capacity, according to several civil rights groups.
Compounding the cruel separation, the government does not have a formal process to reunite families, leaving the very real possibility that children spend extended periods of time away from their families and in a temporary shelter facility, causing irreparable harm and trauma, they said.
Even Trump’s executive order falls short, many said.
“We must take action now to create tangible change for our people and create a precedent for this country to combat the brutality it has inflicted,” said Miguel Andrade of Juntos, a nonprofit that works to fight for the rights of the Latino immigrant community. “If we continue to simply demand that families belong together, we will easily see the ballooning of more family detention centers like Berks Family Detention Center and mass incarceration and we can do better.”
Outspoken California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters led a group of more than 190 House Democrats to introduce the Keep Families Together Act, which would end the Trump administration’s family separation policy at the U.S. border.
The legislation was spearheaded by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is the House companion to legislation introduced by California’s senior U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“When one hears disturbing news reports that children are being ripped out of the arms of their parents only to be held in detention centers where they are locked in cages, are forced to sleep on cement floors and are only allowed to go outdoors for limited periods of time, one would think that those reports are describing conditions under the rule of a callous dictator — not the president of the United States,” Waters said. “Unfortunately, Donald Trump and his racist, Jim Crow-era throwback Jeff Sessions have unleashed the full power of the executive branch to target, terrorize, and traumatize children and families — many of whom are seeking refuge from the very type of mistreatment in which they are now confronted with upon arrival to the greatest democracy in the world. This is a national disgrace.”
While Trump’s executive order will prevent the separation of families, it still will lock them up together for an indefinite period.
The order directs the Department of Homeland Security to keep families intact when they are caught crossing the border. However, it seeks to allow families to be detained together throughout the duration of their court proceedings.
“Do not be misled by the lies from the president and his allies,” Waters said. “This is Donald Trump’s immoral and inhumane family separation policy.”