A coalition of immigrant rights groups have rallied outside the White House and the US Department of Justice and Homeland Security to protest the Trump administration’s policy on separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.
The demonstrations were among several on the border issue to be held across the Washington region in response to the family separation policy.
Outside the White House, people used a megaphone to play audio obtained by ProPublica from inside a US Customs and Border Protection facility, in which children can be heard crying as they ask for their family members.
Krupskaya Elliott, a staff at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Virginia, was among dozens of activists gathered in the rain at the Justice Department to speak out against the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Elliott, who came to the US from Nicaragua 13 years ago, said she could not imagine being separated from her two children. “The trauma inflicted upon kids is immoral,” she said.
Earlier, about two dozen protesters also gathered outside the home of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in Alexandria, Virginia. The rally lasted about an hour.
According to an organizer of the protest, Nielsen was seen leaving through the back door of the home as the protest wound down.
Nielsen has become the face of Trump’s policy of separating undocumented migrant families at the US-Mexico border, which he halted in an executive order Wednesday.
Heartbreaking images and audio of children separated from their parents and crying for their loved ones while being held in chain-link fence cages have stocked outrage across the political spectrum in the United States and abroad.
There have been growing calls for Nielsen to resign in the face of the immigration crisis and Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.
On Tuesday, she was heckled by protesters at a Mexican restaurant that is two blocks from the White House.
Activists from Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America confronted Nielsen at MXDC Cocina Mexicana restaurant and attempted to disrupt her dinner while she was surrounded by staff and security.
The organization said police were called and tried to detain the activists “to no avail.”
In a video posted on socail media by the group, Nielsen is seen in a corner of the restaurant, her head lowered as the protesters chanted repeatedly “Shame!”
“How can you enjoy a Mexican dinner as you’re deporting, imprisoning tens of thousands of people who come here seeking asylum in the United States?” one of the activists cried out in a 10-minute video the group posted on social media.
Another protester remarked: “In a Mexican restaurant, of all places!”