If President Donald Trump thought his sham executive order would put an end to mass grassroots outrage over his unspeakably cruel anti-immigrant agenda, he was sorely mistaken.
"They think it's over, that we'll pipe down and go away. It's not over, it's just getting started."
—Metro D.C. Democratic Socialist of America
As hundreds of immigrant children forcibly separated from their families arrived on flights to New York City from Texas Wednesday night, massive demonstrations kicked off both inside and outside LaGuardia Airport showing solidarity with the young children and demanding that the Trump administration immediately reunite them with their loved ones, who are detained thousands of miles away.
"We want to let them know that there are thousands of people who see them, who love them, and who will fight for them," Stosh Cotler, one of the organizers of the rally and CEO of Bend the Arc—an advocacy group that works on a wide range of issues, including immigrant rights—said in a statement.
Terminals are packed with HUNDREDS of NYers who showed up in solidarity for children, with messages of love, singing in Spanish, “Cielito Lindo”.#FamiliesBelongTogether#FreedomForImmigrants#AbolishICE pic.twitter.com/ftiGirUSpK
— Make the Road NY (@MaketheRoadNY) June 21, 2018
Happening NOW at LaGuardia Airport in NYC: citizens gathering to greet kids separated from their parents by the Trump administration #FamiliesBelongTogether #FreedomforImmigrants pic.twitter.com/sRXpR7Ndq8
— ACLU (@ACLU) June 21, 2018
“This is what solidarity looks like.” Right now at LaGuardia. Our tax dollars have funded the terrorization of families seeking refuge. Let’s keep showing up people #FamilesBelongTogether pic.twitter.com/hoiU8cwA6K
— Baratunde (@baratunde) June 21, 2018
The protests at LaGuardia, which continued into the early hours of Thursday morning, closed with chants of "I believe that we will win!"
POWERFUL closing at LGA Term C: 100s chant “I believe that we will win!” Crowd rededicates itself to showing up for immigrant children, family members, and community members WHEREVER and WHENEVER. #FreedomForImmigrants #FamiliesBelongTogether CC: @UNITEDWEDREAM @MaketheRoadNY pic.twitter.com/NUp29c2WkA
— Daniel Altschuler (@altochulo) June 21, 2018
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The rapid-response demonstration against Trump's family separation practice came amid reports that the administration is quietly transferring young immigrant children to New York "in waves," without the knowledge of state officials.
Make the Road New York, an immigrant rights group that has been organizing against Trump's anti-immigrant agenda, sent out a "red alert" late Wednesday calling on everyone in New York City to rush to LaGuardia to "witness where the children are being taken" and show that they have the unwavering support of the community.
*URGENT* Children who’ve been separated from their families (detained miles away) are on flights arriving at La Guardia Airport TONIGHT. People needed to witness where the children are being taken. If you’re in NY come to LGA now-We’re here! #KeepFamliesTogether #MoralEmergency
— Make the Road NY (@MaketheRoadNY) June 21, 2018
After Trump signed his executive order Wednesday afternoon, Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said the White House has absolutely no plans to reunite the more than 2,300 children who have been torn from their families and detained as their parents are criminally prosecuted for seeking refuge from violence and persecution in their home countries.
"In response to the overwhelming public outrage at his policy of tearing children away from their parents at the border, this administration thinks the appropriate response is to indefinitely detain families."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
While another HHS spokesperson later slightly walked back Wolfe's statement—saying the department is "awaiting further guidance" from Trump on reunification—the administration has shown little concern for the plight of the thousands of immigrant children it has traumatized with its cruel policy.
In addition to leaving thousands of children detained or in foster care facilities as their parents are prosecuted for crossing the border illegally, Trump's executive order merely trades "one form of child abuse for another" by demanding mass family detention.
"In response to the overwhelming public outrage at his policy of tearing children away from their parents at the border, this administration thinks the appropriate response is to indefinitely detain families," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement on Wednesday. "This executive order is an affront to our moral values and runs afoul of our nation’s laws."
Reacting to Trump's order on Wednesday, the Metro D.C. branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)—which put pressure on the White House late Tuesday by publicly shaming Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson as she attempted to dine at a Mexican restaurant—vowed to keep fighting the administration's xenophobic policies.
"They think it's over, that we'll pipe down and go away," Metro D.C. DSA wrote on Twitter after Trump signed his directive. "It's not over, it's just getting started."