Nearly a thousand people crowded in front of Burbank City Hall on Saturday morning as part of a nationwide day of action protesting the immigration policies enacted by the Trump administration.
Clad in white clothing, meant to symbolize unity and peace, protesters spilled from the front steps of City Hall and onto the sidewalk, requiring some attendees to gather across the street. They were all protesting against President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy of punishing migrants who cross the border into the United States illegally.
The policy led to the forced separation of immigrant families with adults being placed into federal custody while children were sent to government-funded shelters. According to the Los Angeles Times, the policy resulted in nearly 2,000 children being separated from their parents.
Aimee Powers, a resident of Burbank, said what’s being done by the government perpetuates a “really shameful history” in the United States when it comes to immigrants. She called on legislators and citizens to learn from the mistakes of the past, to do better and to show empathy.
“These families are just trying to come here and make a better life for themselves,” she said. “It’s terrible what we’re doing to them.”
Many of the marchers carried signs with slogans reading, “We Are All Immigrants,” “Abolish ICE” and “Families Belong Together.” Several people wore jackets reading one version or another of “Yes, I do care” on the back, referencing an article of clothing First Lady Melania Trump wore when she visited children at a shelter in Texas that said, “I really don’t care. Do u?”
Ayla Machado, 16, of Boyle Heights said it has been heartbreaking to see how the president’s policy had affected her and her friends. Many of her classmates are undocumented immigrants.
“I’m scared, what if I don’t see them next week? What’s going to happen to them?” she said. “They’re still kids.”
While the president recently announced the reversal of the policy, only a small number of families have been reunited. Rather than separate families, the government will now detain adults and children together indefinitely until their court dates.
State Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) said during the rally the American people should care for everyone, “regardless of where they’re born.” He also said the president “should be better; but, instead, he’s broken.
“He’s broken, but we can’t let him break America, we can’t let him break our spirit,” he said. “We have to stand together, hold hands together, march together, vote together … and we always have to believe that tomorrow’s going to be better.”
The sentiment was echoed by state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) who said the country is currently seeing a “rapid deterioration of human rights” under the watch of the president. She called on people to fight back against Trump and to show the world the United States is a country of compassion, human rights and decency.
“I am the daughter of an immigrant, I am the wife of an immigrant, we are a nation of immigrants,” Friedman said. “Those people who come to America seeking safety and freedom should be embraced because they are the foundation of [the country].”