US President Donald Trump is facing a sharp protest to reverse his policy of separating children from refugees and migrants who cross the US-Mexico border.
“Families belong together,” protesters chanted on Sunday, as hundreds gathered outside detention centers in the states of Texas and New Jersey, calling for an end to the practice.
In May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” approach towards migrants and refugees who cross the US southern border without documents, promising to prosecute those who did so.
Part of that approach has been separating children from their parents who are detained.
A Department of Homeland Security spokesman told reporters last week that 1,995 minors were separated from 1,940 adults who crossed the US border without documents between April 19 and May 31.
Sunday’s protests coincided with the celebration of Father’s Day in the US, and drew several legislators from the Democratic Party.
New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney shared the stories of five men detained in the New Jersey facility who were separated from their families.
Other members of Congress toured a converted Walmart supermarket that is housing about 1,500 children, dozens of whom have been separated from their parents under the “zero-tolerance” policy.
“They call it ‘zero tolerance,’ but a better name for it is zero humanity, and there’s zero logic to this policy,” said Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said while touring the facility.
“It’s completely unacceptable under any moral code or under any religious tradition to injure children, inflict trauma on them in order to send some political message to adults somewhere overseas,” he said.
Protesters also marched to the newly-erected tent city in Tornillo, Texas, where hundreds of boys will be housed, according to Congressman Will Hurd, who toured the area over the weekend.
The US Department of Health and Human Services announced the opening of the “shelter” last week.