SOUTH MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Throngs of protesters critical of the Trump administration’s handling of migrant families who cross the U.S.-Mexico border marched more than a mile to a government-run facility in Homestead housing undocumented children, as they let their voices be heard on the contentious issue.
Southwest 288th Street in South Miami-Dade was partially shut down as the large crowd blanketed the roadway. Demonstrators chanted and held signs as they made their way toward the facility.
One of the demonstrators expressed her outrage about the policy of separating migrant children from their parents once they are taken into custody.
“The children are already devastated because they’ve been separated from a parent or a loved one, and to have them there is unreal and unbelievable,” she said.
Demonstrators gathered in front of the Walmart along Southwest 288th Street, where many of them made signs. From there, they began the long trek in the blistering heat.
For Melissa Taveras of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, the message was clear.
“We’re doing our best to make sure that elected officials are on the right side of history, and that this detention machinery doesn’t keep going,” she said.
This rally comes just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep families who illegal cross the border together.
But Taveras said that isn’t enough, indicating that the executive order doesn’t change the “zero tolerance” policy.
“There are nonprofit organizations and churches willing to help undocumented people, so give people a chance instead of taking them straight into the detention centers,” she said.
Taveras said many of the people coming into the United States are running for refuge.
“People are coming to this country because they pretty much are finding themselves having very little alternative in their home countries,” she said. “They’re suffering violence. They’re suffering extreme poverty.”
Among those in the crowd on Saturday was actor Christian Slater. He told 7News he’s glad the spotlight is on the issue.
“What’s going on is crazy and criminal,” he said. “How these kids and families are being treated is completely un-American.”
As demonstrators made it to the end of their march, they were greeted by some counter-protesters, and then the skies opened.
But the downpour did not dampen protesters’ spirits.
“Take care of the foreigners in your land,” said a demonstrator.
“It’s traumatizing children, and it really should not be who we are as a country,” said protester Tomas Kennedy.
Organizers estimated about 1,500 people came out to the rally.
A similar rally is scheduled to take place Sunday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., outside of the Broward Federal Courthouse in Downtown Fort Lauderdale.
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