Hundreds of thousands of people across the United States protested punitive immigration policies on Saturday, June 30. From tens of thousands in New York and Chicago, to dozens in Albert Lea and hundreds more in other Greater Minnesota communities, people turned out to say no to family separation, no to the travel ban, no to turning away asylum applicants, no to everything about Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-immigration policies, and to demand the abolition of ICE.
In Minneapolis, downtown streets filled with more than 7,000 protesters, stopping downtown traffic and light rail trains for hours as they marched from the Minneapolis Convention Center to the Hennepin County Jail and back again. The crowd was so large that most could not even hear the speakers, who included nine-year-old Miranda describing her own fear of separation from her undocumented parents and her dream of a United States where her whole family could live without fear.
The latest developments in Washington include the Trump administration’s plan to jail all family members together for months on end, ignoring court-ordered limits on detention of children.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans new restrictions on asylum seekers. While the text of proposed new regulations has not yet been finalized, leaked documents reveal plans to bar all asylum applications from
- Anyone who has crossed the border without authorization;
- Anyone who has crossed through two countries or has spent more than two weeks in one country on their way to the United States;
- Anyone making a claim based on domestic violence or gang violence.
If enacted, that regulation would bar almost all Central Americans, and would violate U.S. asylum law and international human rights standards.
People keep coming, driven by fear and violence. More than 1,000 waited in Tijuana, trying to request asylum at the official U.S. border checkpoint, only to be turned back by U.S. officials insisting that there was no room for them. The New Yorker tells the story of Mabel Gonzalez, separated from her sons and imprisoned eight months ago when they crossed the border and approached the Border Patrol to ask for asylum. A pastor in Honduras, she has continued to help other women while in immigration detention, telling their stories, connecting them with outside agencies, and consoling them as they, too, endure separation from their children. Last month, she testified to the dangers she faces back in Honduras. “The judge looked me in the eye and said he understood the situation I was in,” Gonzales told me. “But he said that the law didn’t leave him with anything he could do to help me.”
Stories of children separated from their parents continue. Immigration authorities move ahead with fast-tracking deportation for parents, while their children are placed with relatives or in foster homes and detention centers across the country. Sometimes parents are told that they need to consent to deportation in order to be reunited with their children—and are then deported without their children anyway. Recent stories include:
- The Guardian’s YouTube video of an interview with a sister and brother, ages 7 and 11, describing their time in detention;
- A Guatemalan father, deported without his eight-year-old daughter, who is now in Minnesota;
- Attorneys’ accounts of a three-year-old client’s court appearance, and of fathers and mothers too distraught because of the loss of their children to make their own cases for asylum;
- Family separation happens in the interior of the United States, for children including 12-year-old Alex and his 18-year-old sister Estefany, now on their own since the ICE raid in Norwalk, Ohio. Alex, reports the Washington Post, cannot understand why people are shocked by family separation—to him, “the act of family separation seemed quintessentially American. It was the cornerstone of his American experience.”