San Diego

Some Arrested as Thousands Demonstrate Against Migrant Family Separations at Separate San Diego County Rallies

The president signed an executive order last week to end family separation, but there is no plan right now to reunite the thousands that have already been separated

Thousands of people marched in two San Diego demonstrations Saturday against the Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy.

More than 2,300 children have been taken from their parents while crossing the border illegally or seeking asylum since the Trump administration began their zero-tolerance border crossing policy six weeks ago.

Demonstrators organized the rally in opposition to the practice, which has been walked back after bipartisan backlash although the zero-tolerance policy for entering the country illegally remained. 

San Diego police estimated at least 5,000 people marched from Civic Center Plaza to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices on Front Street Saturday in protest. 

The organizers, Families Belong Together, said they are also protesting the condition the children are being kept in and the emotional trauma suffered by their separation.

"It's just an injustice," Daniel Rodriguez said. "I'm mad about it but the good thing is that privilege to have citizenship so I can speak out for my brothers and sisters that don't have citizenship."

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.

All three facilities have been inspected since March.

Other groups, Generation Justice and PICO California, demonstrated outside the Otay Mesa Detention Center on Saturday afternoon, chaining themselves to barricades and preventing employees from entering the facility. 

The detention center houses immigrants awaiting court proceedings, the only in San Diego County.

Several protestors were taken into custody on charges of unlawful assembly and at least one person is charged with assault. 

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to end family separation and hold families in detention together, but it is unclear how the thousands of children who have already been separated from their parents will be reunited. 

"The executive order while not separating does nothing to address the 2300 children that have already been separated," Terri Leyton said. "We don't even know where their parents are and how they're going to put them back together and reunite these families."

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Saturday they have a process in place so family members know the location of their children and are able to communicate with them. 

DHS said authorities know the location of all children in custody after separating them from their families at the border and are working to reunite them. It called the reunification process "well coordinated."

The release did not state how long it might take to reunite families.

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