A group of North Texas activists traveled to McAllen, Texas, over the weekend to protest the separation of immigrant parents from their children – many of whom are being held in detention centers.
Protesters included local religious and community leaders, and members of the League of United Latin American Citizens. They traveled by bus, and on the way down, watched documentaries about the plight of immigrants to inform their protest, says Alia Salem, president and co-founder of Facing Abuse in Community Environments.
“Why are people coming up here? And so some of us are not even educated on what is happening to get these families to flee, to come down,” she said. “So I thought it would be helpful for people to kind of get an understanding of what the crisis is to a certain extent.”
When they arrived outside a Border Patrol processing facility, protesters waved signs and yelled in Spanish, “Basta!” or “Enough!”
They briefly blocked a bus carrying immigrant children, and some held up their hands, placing them on bus windows as children peered out. In Spanish, they yelled out to the children that they would be reunited with their parents: “We are America! We are America! ... Ah, rato van a estar con sus padres...pequeños...van a estar con sus padres."
The activists from North Texas joined others from across the state for Saturday’s demonstrations.
"Something has to be done," said Gabriel Rosales, the League of United Latin American Citizens' national vice president for the southwest, according to The Associated Press. "This is not something that's OK in America today. And ours is to show those kids that they have people here in the United States that care."
The protests came days after the Trump administration reversed course on its "zero-tolerance" policy and had authorities stop separating immigrant families caught illegally crossing the border.
In recent weeks, more than 2,300 children were taken from their families under the policy. While the family separations were ended, the Department of Homeland Security has provided no timeline for when reunifications will happen.
The administration says it will now seek to detain immigrant families during their immigration proceedings, which has also caused an outcry.
The North Texas group is planning rallies on July 4 and encouraging people to protest at detention centers.