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baby at rally

A women holds a you baby during a protest for Immigrant in front of the Department of Justice, on June 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. Immigrant rights organizations are calling for a halt to the Trump administration's family separation border policy. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Nationwide #KeepFamiliesTogether Rallies Demand Trump Halt 'Cruel' Border Separation Policy

"Criminalizing families and separating children from their parents is a practice that traumatizes and shocks us all." 

Jessica Corbett

Immigrant rights advocates are participating in rallies and demonstrations nationwide on Friday in coordinated protests against the Trump administration's policy that enables federal agents to take migrant children away from their parents.

Throughout the day, advocates across the country rallied in town squares as well as outside U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field offices, U.S. attorney's offices, and the Deparment of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C., to pressure the Trump administration to immediately halt its "brutal practice" of separating families at the border.

"We're here in front of the Department of Justice because criminalizing families and separating children from their parents is a practice that traumatizes and shocks us all," declared Gustavo Torres, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group CASA. Demonstrators shared updates from the rallies with the hashtags #KeepFamiliesTogether and #FamiliesBelongTogether.

Advocates also used the day of action to draw attention to the long history of agents with ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) mistreating immigrants. Amid mounting concerns about new policies at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE and CBP, the ACLU released a trove of documents last week that revealed "pervasive abuse" of migrant children during the Obama administration.

Many protesters on Friday also pointed to the cases of Claudia Patricia Gómez González, an Indigenous woman from Guatemala who was shot in the head and killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent last week, and Roxsana Hernandez, a transgender asylum seeker from Honduras who recently died in ICE custody after being held in an "ice box" cell and denied access to medical care.

A coalition of groups, including Make the Road New York, also planned a march in New York City for Friday evening. A Facebook event for the Jericho Walk to #EndFamilySeparation asserts that with the new forced separation policy and other DHS practices, "The Trump administration has one goal in mind: to terrorize immigrant families."

Ahead of the protests, NBC News reports that on Thursday, attorneys and advocacy groups filed an emergency request (pdf) with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights—which is part of the Organization of American States (OAS)—demanding the reunification of a group of parents and children separated at the Southern border, and that the U.S. government provide therapy services "for the trauma caused by the forcible separations."

The document also requests that the commission require the U.S. to stop housing children in facilities that are not specifically designed for them; process children for release as quickly as possible; disclose how many children have been separated from their parents at the Southern border under the new policy; and "immediately cease the systemic practice of prosecuting parents and separating children from their parents at the U.S. border."

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