The Families Belong Together march took place in Washington, DC, in Lafayette Square — across from the White House — at 11 am on Saturday, June 30. According to organizers, some 30,000 attendees gathered by 11:30 am. Sister marches were expected to take place in more than 700 cities and towns across the country.
“The ‘zero tolerance’ policy is Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, and he has the ability to get rid of that policy at any time,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, the policy director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, one of the dozens of groups that are organizing the protest. “So we’re not going to stop organizing until the end of zero-tolerance policy. That’s ultimately what created this crisis, and our demand has been so clear from the very beginning that that’s what needs to happen.”
President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week that ended the large-scale practice of splitting up parents and kids, but his administration will now detain families together — and it seeks to do so indefinitely.
There’s also the question of the more than 2,000 children separated from their parents. Accounts from immigration advocates and migrants within detention say the process to reunify families is fraught with problems. A judge has ordered the Trump administration speed up family reunification and stop deporting parents without their kids, but bureaucratic hurdles remain.
Even as the administration reunites families, it’s seeking to deport them together. It is also proposing a rule that would radically change the asylum process, by making people ineligible if they cross the border illegally.
These policies are energizing the June 30 protest, even after pressure forced Trump to balk on family separations. “It’s a clear sign we’re winning the argument, that Trump is feeling the heat,” Karthik Ganapathy, spokesperson for the Families Belong Together March and MoveOn, another group organizing the protest, said last week about Trump’s executive order.
“But at the end of the day what was announced today doesn’t actually solve the problem, in a bunch of ways,” Ganapathy added. “In terms of the kids who’ve already been separated, in terms of clarity on whether or not they’ll ever do this again ... and lastly, on this question of indefinite detention — and in some ways that’s even worse.”
The Families Belong Together protest encouraged protesters to wear white, in solidarity. The march in DC featured speeches from activists, faith leaders, and children and families.
Trump’s policy has reignited activism on immigration
Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy has galvanized activists nationwide, with a fervor reminiscent of the early days of the Trump administration and the travel ban.
Spontaneous protests have also broken out across the country. This month, demonstrators confronted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as she dined at a DC Mexican restaurant. And New Yorkers recently gathered at LaGuardia Airport to welcome children, reportedly separated from their parents, who were set to arrive in the city.
About 600 women were arrested on Thursday during a nonviolent civil disobedience action organized by the Women’s March. Hundreds of protesters took over a Senate office building to call for the abolition of ICE and the end of family separation and detention.
“Civil disobedience is a strategic intentional tactic,” Sarsour said last week, before the protest. “We have to be helpful to the people we claim to fight with and for.”
The June 30 protest is building on those mobilization efforts, especially as the intensity of the public pressure has, as Ganapathy noted, forced the Trump administration to shift course on family separation.
“I really think this is an organic thing,” Ganapathy said. “I really just think we’re tapping into this deep and visceral sense of outrage that people feel. This can’t be who we are as a country, we can’t go down this path.”
The #FamiliesBelongTogetherMarch, in tweets and photos
Marches took place across hundreds of cities on Saturday, drawing in thousands of people, including immigrant rights activists, politicians, and celebrities. Actress America Ferrera, singer Alicia Keys, and composer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda took part in the DC rally. Actress Kerry Washington took part in an event in New York, and singer John Legend in Los Angeles.
Here is footage of Washington in New York:
And of Miranda, who sang a lullaby for children separated from their parents:
Lin-Manuel Miranda is singing a lullaby for children separated from their parents pic.twitter.com/csctFNjR5T— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) June 30, 2018
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) posted a video hitting the Trump administration for its zero-tolerance immigration policies:
Helpless, caged children *still* don't know if they'll ever see their mothers again. This reckless Trump policy of family detention must stop.— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) June 30, 2018
Rise up for justice. Continue mobilizing because #FamiliesBelongTogether. We need you. #FamiliesBelongTogetherMarch –NP pic.twitter.com/zDO7Nuaaxn
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) spoke at a rally in Atlanta, telling the crowd, “We may have to turn America upside down to turn it right-side up.”
"We may have to turn American upside down to turn it right-side up," Rep. John Lewis says at immigration march in Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/T9FVBotWlU— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 30, 2018
Here are more images and videos from across the country:
Huge crowds flowing into Lafayette Park at the Washington DC rally, wearing white, toting water and sunscreen. Tremendous cheers for the opening welcome from Sebastian Medina-Tayac of the Piscataway Nation. #FamiliesBelongTogether #FamiliesBelongTogetherMarch pic.twitter.com/TGdOznJwXI— Anna Galland (@annagalland) June 30, 2018
I can't even imagine what it would be like to be separated from my child .Hold these families in your heart and don't forget their struggles - @aliciakeys #FamiliesBelongTogether #FamiliesBelongTogetherMarch #EndFamilyDetention #AbolishICE pic.twitter.com/6W6HTcC5eX— Voto Latino (@votolatino) June 30, 2018
Actress America Ferrera reads a letter from a grandfather fighting to sponsor his granddaughter: "I want you to imagine that this is your child, that you are this grandfather." https://t.co/1JXiRRkVzD pic.twitter.com/Gxenlw0jJp— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 30, 2018
According to the White House press pool report, Trump was also met with protesters near his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey on Saturday. Signs included, “I really do care you should too #begone,” “Even the Trump family belongs together,” and “Do you know where our children are?”