Protesters Rally as Attorney General Jeff Sessions Visits Los Angeles

Protesters gathered in downtown Los Angeles ahead of Sessions' arrival, blocking Spring Street in front of a federal courthouse building

Immigrant-rights advocates asked a federal judge Tuesday to order the release of parents separated from their children at the border, as dozens of demonstrators decrying the Trump administration's immigration crackdown were arrested Tuesday at a rally ahead of a Los Angeles appearance by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Several immigrant advocacy groups are protesting the Trump administration's border policies Tuesday outside of a downtown Los Angeles federal courthouse building. Several clergy members formed a line across Spring Street in front of the federal courthouse building.

They were taken into custody in a series of planned arrests.

The group chanted, "Sessions, where's your heart?"

The court action was brought by the Los Angeles-based pro bono law firm Public Counsel on behalf of three Central American mothers whose children were taken from them by U.S. authorities in May.

More than 2,000 children in all have been separated from their parents and placed in government-contracted shelters in recent weeks under a now-abandoned Trump administration policy toward families caught illegally crossing the border. Public Counsel demanded that the parents be released and immediately reunited with their children.

"These parents are terrified for their children and want nothing more than to ensure the scarring that this experience has already caused does not continue to inflict irreparable harm," Judy London, a Public Counsel attorney, said in a statement.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Sessions was in Reno on Monday where he continued to defend the Trump administration's immigration policies at the Mexican border. He spoke Tuesday at the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation's Annual Luncheon Meeting at Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles would not confirm if Sessions is planning to visit the courthouse.

After facing significant bipartisan pressure, President Donald Trump last week ended a recent policy of separating children from their parents when they were apprehended at the Mexican border by immigration authorities, although he said the government would still attempt to criminally prosecute the adults while holding the families together, and he did not set out a plan for reuniting some 2,300 children with parents from whom they've been separated. The Department of Justice has since filed a motion to revise the federal Flores settlement agreement, which limits the time immigrant children can be detained to 20 days.

During speech at annual National School Safety Conference in Reno, Sessions said that violent Central American gangs are sending children across the border illegally.

"This is not fair to the children you serve and it's not fair to you," Sessions said, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. "The compassionate thing to do is protect our children from drugs and violence, put criminals in jail and secure our borders. Having an immigration system that has integrity and consistency is right and just and moral. The alternative is open borders which is dangerous and not a realistic prospect for America."

CHIRLA and other immigrant groups said they were still unsatisfied after Trump cancelled the separation policy.

"The executive order he issued today is a slap in the face to reason, morality, and human decency," CHIRLA said on Wednesday. " In a crisis that he and the Republican party created, today's directive worsens a horrific situation for immigrant families everywhere."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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