Thousands rally against migrant family separation

Photo by Zoie Konneker

On Saturday, Atlanta joined in solidarity with other cities across the country against the U.S. immigration policy that has separated children from their parents.

Meeting in front of the Atlanta City Detention Center, a crowd estimated at 4,000 representing more than 50 different local organizations stood in opposition to the separation of thousands of children at the Mexican border. As detainees looked on from the windows of the detention center, the gathering marched to the Richard B. Russel Federal Building while denouncing the immigration policy, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Trump administration.

“Today is about family — it’s about compassion and it’s about community,” lead organizers said to kickstart the rally.

Signs varied from Bible quotes to criticisms of the Trump.

“Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of My family, you did it to Me,” one sign read.

“Without immigrants, Trump would have no wives!” read another.

While not a new policy, federal authorities have previously opted to release entire families from detention rather than separating them and keeping the parents detained. Seemingly in response to an increase in illegal border crossings, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his new commitment to “zero tolerance” at the border in April earlier this year.

“If you are smuggling a child,” Sessions said, “then we will prosecute you. And that child may be separated from you as required by law.”

President Trump also claimed that his administration was put in the position of separating families to “effectively enforce the law” because of “Congress’ failure to act” and “court orders.” Though he later signed an executive order meant to end the controversial approach.

Congressmen and the general public alike have been vocal in their concern with the policy, and both expressed their opinions at the Saturday rally.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson was one of the first to speak saying, “Together we stand up for the basic human truth that families belong together.” He went on to criticize the zero-tolerance policy, saying it “defiles the inscription etched on America’s immigrant-welcoming Statue of Liberty.”

Representatives of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights also spoke, welcoming newcomers to a cause they have been a part of for decades.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis also spoke to the crowds, praising the message that the rally and others like it send to lawmakers.[—

“We are sick and tired of seeing the children taken from their mothers,” Lewis said. “History will not be kind to us. As a nation and as a people, we can do much better.”