Chanting "Trump, where is your heart?", a sea of protesters gathered in blazing heat in Los Angeles on Saturday to march against a White House policy that separates thousands of children from parents who crossed the U.S. border illegally.
The event is part of the "Families Belong Together" protest organized by the nonprofit MoveOn and numerous rights groups.
From coast to coast, in the rain or under the burning sun, tens of thousands of people took to the streets across the United States to protest the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that has resulted in over 2,000 children being separated from their families.
Organizers said events had been planned across the country, with Washington as the main protest venue, calling the rallies a forum for people to stand up to the president's controversial immigration policies.
People carrying self-made signs jammed the streets around Los Angeles City Hall and heard emotional speeches from political leaders such as California Senator Kamala Harris, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, as well as celebrities like singer-songwriter John Legend and actress Cher.
Harris said it was a moment for the country to reflect and encouraged people to take a moment and think about who they want to be.
"I believe the answer includes saying: We are better than this. We are better than having these detention facilities that are prisons where we house mothers who have been ripped from their breast-feeding children behind barbed wire, we are better than this," said Harris, while some of the crowd energetically responded "We are! We are!"
Garcetti called on the White House to reunite the families, protect the Dreamers, and pass comprehensive immigration reform.
"I've got a message for the White House, we care, and so should you," he said.
The administration's decision to separate migrant familes triggered outrage both at home and abroad.
Department of Homeland Security estimated around 2,342 children have been separated from their parents along the border between May 5 and June 6, according to the Washington Post.
Although Trump reversed course on June 20 and signed an executive order to detain families together for an indefinite period, critics said the immigrant families should not be locked up at all.
"(The) family separation crisis is not over. We have a situation where the Trump administration seems to be aiming to detain families," said Karthik Ganapathy, a MoveOn.org spokesman.
Jessica Variz who clutched a sign that read, "civility upholds white supremacy", said there is a long list of reasons she came to the protest.
"The current policy of separating families on the border is disgusting and it needs to stop immediately, and we also need to have a policy in place to make sure these families are reunited as soon as possible," the high school teacher said.
Built on immigrants
In New York, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, thousands of people held signs with slogans like "Make America Humane Again" and "Immigrants Are Welcome Here". On the U.S.-Mexico border, demonstrators partially blocked a bridge connecting El Paso, Texas with Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, Reuters reported.
In Chicago, among the thousands who marched toward the offices of federal immigration authorities was Cindy Curry of Westchester, Illinois. "I'm here because families belong together," said Curry to Reuters.
After an order by a federal judge that families should be reunited, the Trump administration asked the military to house immigrant families, which made the Pentagon consider the construction of camp facilities.
"This country is built on immigrants, that's where our strength comes from. When our president violates that, we all need to get out in the streets and protest and change that immediately," a female protester who identified herself as Scheiner told Xinhua.
"Immigrants are the backbone of this country ... the minute we turn away immigrants, we weaken ourselves," she said.
"Children belong in school, belong in the playground, not in cages," read one protester's message.