Hundreds rallied against the Trump Administration’s "zero-tolerance" immigration policy at six planned rallies in San Diego County Saturday, joining demonstrations across the United States.
"Show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like," Teresa Castillo from Las Cruces, New Mexico said as she and hundreds of residents showed up to Cannon Park in Carlsbad Saturday with a loud and united message to keep families together.
The protest was one of six planned throughout San Diego County Saturday and nearly 600 planned across the U.S. under the banner "Families Belong Together. "The message: to urge the Trump Administration to reunite about 2,000 migrant children who have been detained separately at the U.S.-Mexico border since May.
"We're rallying in Washington, D.C., and around the country to tell Donald Trump and his administration to permanently end the separation of kids from their parents," a message on the organizer’s website, MoveOn.org, read. "End family internment camps. End the 'zero-humanity' policy that created this crisis. And reunify the children with their parents."
At a rally in Temecula, a 12-year-old boy gave a tearful speech to a crowd of hundreds gathered at Temecula Duck Pond as he urged them not to stop fighting for migrant children.
"They don't deserve to be taken away from their families," the boy said. "Imagine your child, your grandchild taken away from you; you’ve known them all your life and then they’re just gone."
"We will fight," voices in the crowd yelled back in support.
Carlsbad’s rally was nearly stopped before it began. The city posted signs at Cannon Park that read any event with 50 or more people must have a permit or attendees may be charged with a misdemeanor.
Hundreds gathered despite the warning.
"We can make a difference when we do come together and we get loud so we're continuing to do that because it’s our right and it’s our moral obligation," Cindy Millican said.
The city of Carlsbad later tweeted, "Lots of confusion about sign at Cannon Park. Organizers didn’t get a permit but we respect your right to protest. The goal is to keep everyone safe."
Protesters on both sides of the immigration issue were allowed to demonstrate peacefully.
Within the large crowd was a pair who support the government's current "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. The same policy that separated migrant children from their parents made crossing into the U.S. illegally a misdemeanor.
"ICE was brought about by 9/11 and they do a job and they do it well," Jon Anderson said. "They're becoming a scapegoat for this whole separation-of-families issue.
"Change the laws if you believe that these laws that are on the books are wrong,"he said. "And until those laws are changed, I support those laws."
Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to show his support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid calls from some Democrats for major changes to immigration enforcement.
Tweeting from New Jersey, Trump said that Democrats "are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen." He urged ICE agents to "not worry or lose your spirit."
San Diego U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ruled on Tuesday that immigration authorities must stop separating migrant children and must reunite families within 30 days, sooner if the child is younger than 5.
President Donald Trump had signed an order ending the separation of families but the order was followed by days of uncertainty and conflicting information as to when migrant children might see their family again.
The Trump Administration has argued that Sabraw's order gives them no choice but to hold families for prosecution longer than the current 20-day limit set by what has been known as the Flores Agreement, NBC News reported.
Thousands of demonstrators also marched last weekend in San Diego to protest the immigration policy at rallies under the same banner. Several protestors were taken into custody at a protest outside the Otay Mesa Detention Center on charges of unlawful assembly and at least one person was charged with assault.
The detention center houses immigrants awaiting court proceedings, the only in San Diego County.
San Diego County is the home of three shelters for undocumented children and teens who arrive unaccompanied at the border or are separated from their parents when detained.
Those shelters in El Cajon, Lemon Grove and San Diego have a combined maximum capacity of 90 children and teens, ages 6-17. Boys are sent to the El Cajon facility, which houses 65 clients. Girls are houses at the other two group homes.