Videos and Story by Ford Fischer
Photos by Alejandro Alvarez
Amidst Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy against illegal immigrants, three congresspeople and hundreds of activists gathered to speak out against the practice of separating detained parents from their children. While child detention has been a feature of previous administrations, the practice has been more widely used and criticized amidst with the new policy.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who visited one detention facility, said the parents were often deceived into thinking the children were being taken momentarily for a photo, a bath, or court, and then never returned. “Not one of these women had even been able to say goodbye to their children,” she explained, prompting the crowd to chant “shame! shame!”
“And not one of them knew were their children were.”
“If president Trump were listening, I would say ‘think of your children. Think about your wife herself,'” Jayapal told News2Share. “Stop separating families. You are bringing America down.”
“I am ashamed of the way my government is acting right now” Congressman Eliot Engel told the crowd. “What happens is the parents don’t know where their children are. The children don’t know where their parents are. And we say this is patriotism? No it’s not. Shame on us for doing this.”
“I don’t think you help the family by ripping apart the family. It’s total hypocrisy,” he told News2Share. “Reunite the children with their parents and stop the nonsense at the border. We don’t need another fence. What we need is compassion.”
Senator Catherine Cortez told the crowd that she has legal remedies for the issue but needs the support of activists and congresspeople “on the other side of the aisle.”
“This is not ok, and we’re gonna pass this legislation and send it to the administration to protect these families. The crowd cheered as she listed the “Keep our Families Together Act,” “Help Separated Children Act,” and “Fair Day in Court Act.”
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One activist pointed out the death of Marco Antonio Muñoz, who took his own life while being held in custody at a Texas jail. A Honduran asylum seeker, Muñoz hung himself after being separated from his family.
“This on you, Trump. This death is on you,” said the activist.