NEWS
30/06/2018 22:10 BST

‘Families Belong Together’ Rallies Protest Trump Immigration Policies Nationwide

'The way they treat families, the way they treat immigrants, that’s not America,' one protester said.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Families Belong Together rallies drew crowds dressed in white to cities big and small across the United States on Saturday to protest the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy.

The policy has led to thousands of children being separated from their families at the US-Mexico border and inspired criticism from across the political spectrum.

President Donald Trump partially addressed the issue of family separation in an executive order signed June 20, but the problem is far from solved

Dozens of activist organisations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, MoveOn and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, came together to organise the protests, which included more than 600 events on what was a sweltering hot Saturday in much of the country.

At the main event in Washington, DC, organisers said around 30,000 showed up to hear celebrity and activist speakers including Lin-Manuel Miranda, before marching to the White House.

Brian Snyder / Reuters

Outside the White House, protesters waved “Families Belong Together” signs and chanted “Shame!” as religious leaders and activists urged the administration to be more welcoming of foreigners and to reunite families.

“The way they treat families, the way they treat immigrants, that’s not America,” said protester Aneice Germain.

Thousands of protesters in New York marched across the Brooklyn Bridge bearing signs with slogans like “Make America Humane Again” and “Immigrants Are Welcome Here.”

In Boston, demonstrators heard from Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warrenand Ed Markey, while, on the opposite coast, model Chrissy Teigen introduced her husband John Legend while holding her infant son before a crowd in downtown Los Angeles.

Elsewhere across the country, protesters showed up in places ranging from Farmington, Maine, to Lansing, Michigan, to Eugene, Oregon, where they chanted “No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!”

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

All the while, Trump was reportedly out of town at a golf club he owns in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has overseen an increase in arrests of people suspected of being in the country illegally. His administration is also approving fewer family visas.

Immigration has been on the rise in America and across much of the developed world for decades, roiling politics in recent years in Germany, Britain and the United States.

Immigrants made up about one in 20 US residents in 1970. By 2016, their share rose to about one in seven, according the US Census Bureau.

On Twitter on Saturday, Trump criticised the handful of Democratic politicians who have called for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency known as ICE to be eliminated.

“You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements,” he wrote in part of the post addressed to ICE employees.

Reuters contributed to this report.