Thousands of people across the globe protested on Saturday to demand that the Trump administration reunite families and stop detaining and jailing migrants without due process. Over 780 events were organised in total, with organisers estimating over 60,000 people in Chicago, over 55,000 in Los Angeles, over 35,000 in Washington, D.C., and over 30,000 in New York City.
Women were on the frontlines of the rallies, organising attendees and sharing personal stories that underscore the importance of empathy in these dark times. At the D.C. rally, Diane Guerrero, a 31-year-old actor known for roles on Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, gave an emotional address in which she spoke of her parents and brothers, who had come from Colombia, being deported when was 14. She was born in the U.S. and stayed behind, having to depend on other families to take care of her. Her family is still in Colombia and she says she misses them every day.
Leah, a 12-year-old girl from Miami who says she is scared of losing her undocumented parents to deportation every day, spoke about recently visiting the border to bring messages to detained children in McAllen, TX.
"I am here today because our government is not only separating and detaining refugee parents and children at the border who are looking for safety, but also continues to separate U.S. citizen children like me from their parents every day. This is evil. It needs to stop," she said in her speech. "I want to be an example to other kids who are going through the same problems as me. I won’t give up fighting for the right to stay with my mom. I am not asking for a favour. It is my right as a child to live in peace with my mother and the rest of my family."
Also on the stage in D.C., America Ferrera and Alicia Keys both read accounts from families that have been separated from their children. Lin-Manuel Miranda sang a lullaby dedicated to immigrant families.
The Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy, the source of the humanitarian crisis at the border, has fired up activists in recent months. Nearly 600 women were arrested last Thursday as part of a sit-in against family separation and detention in a Senate office building. While President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that aims to stop splitting up parents and children, his administration is still detaining families together and plans to do so indefinitely. In addition, over 2,000 children are still separated from their parents and the reunification process is full of bureaucratic issues. The administration has also proposed a rule that would bar people from getting asylum if they crossed into the U.S. between points of entry, which would drastically change the asylum process.