New Yorkers rallied outside Brooklyn Borough Hall Thursday evening to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies that are separating families and placing children in detention centers.
The event, coordinated by the nonprofit Families Belong Together, joined a series of protests around the country calling on Congress to stop Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s crackdown on undocumented immigrant families. Holding signs with images of detained children and chanting “families belong together,” the crowd of 400 expressed outrage over recent federal actions.
“I’m Native American and I’m black and I’m a student of history . . . It’s as grotesque now as it was back then,” said Emma Harrington, 32, of Queens. “Expressing my displeasure [here] is a lot better than sitting down and grumbling by myself.”
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official testified in May that 658 children were taken away from their guardians who were prosecuted for undocumented immigration charges between May 6 and May 19. Detained children have been kept in detention centers with little to no contact with their families, according to reports.
Many of those in attendance Thursday night brought their children with them.
“It hits home for me because the kids who are separated are my kids’ ages,” said Aynsley Kirshenbaum, 37, of Kensington, who attended with her daughters Eliza, 6, and Lucy, 2. “The more attention we put on this, the more it puts pressure on people to do something.”
Another protester, Dave Gilbert, 42, of Park Slope, brought his daughter Eve, 5, and said he was just “sick of crying.
“I can’t do much, but at least I can come here and speak out . . . There is not a parent in the world who wouldn’t feel devastated about what’s happened,” Gilbert said.
Over the last couple of weeks, reports of separations and arrests have increased, including Pablo Villavicencio — an undocumented immigrant living in New York who was detained by ICE at Fort Hamilton while he delivered a pizza.
Amanda Sawyer, who organized the event, said more demonstrations are planned.
“With our voices united, we make a greater impact,” she said.