Local protesters joined the call for ending the detention of migrants along the southern border.
The immigrant allies committee of Humans United for Equality held a rally Tuesday as part of a nationwide day of protests organized by liberal activist group MoveOn. More than 30 people gathered outside the Montgomery County Courthouse holding signs in English and Spanish supporting migrants.
The group called for a reversal of the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies, including closing detention facilities and reuniting families separated at the border. Protesters also issued a bipartisan call for consensus on immigrant reform and urged local representatives to visit the border facilities where attorneys say children are being held in “fetid” conditions.
Rally organizer Agata Szczeszak-Brewer said many of the children have relatives living in the U.S. “They don’t have to linger in hunger and filth in these detention centers,” she said,
holding a sign that read “Reunite Families.”
Szczeszak-Brewer said she wasn’t surprised when more video and images were released from inside border facilities in Texas. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus led a tour of the facilities this week, with lawmakers describing women being “crammed into a prison-like cell with one toilet, but no running water to drink from or wash their hands.” Some of the women had been separated from their children and held for more than 50 days.
Before the tour, New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sparked controversy with a tweet accusing the Trump administration of establishing “concentration camps” on the southern border where immigrants “are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying.”
GOP lawmakers and others criticized her for unfairly comparing the situation to the Holocaust.
Protester Juan Marcucci, who emigrated to the U.S. from South America with his family when he was six, said children in the detention facilities were being “treated like terrorists in Guantanamo Bay.”
“This is not the United States our family escaped to as a last hope,” he said.
Marcucci works for the Immigration Welcome Center in Indianapolis, where immigrants are connected to legal aid, language services, employment and other resources. When Trump was elected, he said he briefly considered relocating his family to Canada, where the organization has an office.
“But seeing the surge of activism reminds us that whoever is in the White House doesn’t define what this country is,” Marcucci said as he stood on the courthouse lawn. “This defines what this country is.