Protesters in 700 U.S. Cities Demand:
WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- Thousands of people have rallied across the U.S. to protest the immigration policies of President Donald Trump’s administration and its plan for mass arrests of undocumented migrants around the country.
The nationwide rallies, dubbed "Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps,” took place in 700 U.S. cities to protest the inhumane conditions of migrant detention centers and the Trump administration’s crackdown on asylum seekers and refugees.
In the U.S. capital, hundreds of protesters marched near the White House, urging the government to shut down what they call "concentration camps". They chanted "Close those camps" and held banners reading: "Uncage kids" and "Immoral," as they took part in the protest and vigil.
The Trump administration "has committed many crimes against humanity," said Norma Torres, a Congresswoman from California's 35th district, who attended the rally.
"Because when you strip away the humanity from a two-year-old, from a two-year-old that hasn't even been potty trained yet, you're a criminal," she said.
The treatment of migrants in the detention centers, particularly child migrants, has come under fire in recent months, with reports emerging of filthy conditions and cruelty from staff.
Activists also staged a vigil in New York City, holding up placards and candles as they called for the closure of the detention camps.
American Muslim activist Linda Sarsour called the practice of imprisoning those seeking asylum as "modern day slavery" and segregation.
"It's not enough, it's not enough to end family separation. It's not enough to reunite the children with their parents. It's not enough even to say to close the camps. We have to abolish the oppressive systems that even thought they can put children camps on our watch," Sarsour told a cheering crowd.
More than 20 vigils were also held in several cities in the state of California, where thousands of came out
On Friday, Trump confirmed that American immigration authorities will launch raids to round up thousands of undocumented immigrants and their family members in 10 American cities for deportation.
Trump said on that the nationwide crackdown on immigrants facing deportation will commence over the weekend, adding that he intended to discourage a surge of Central American migrants.
The raids fulfill a hardline immigration stance from Trump which will be a key issue in his 2020 re-election campaign.
Trump has made his hardline stance on immigration an integral part of his presidency and has promised to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to curb the flow of migrants from Mexico and Central America.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden faced a protest Friday in Dover, New Hampshire, during an election campaign event by a small group of demonstrators angry over the deportation of undocumented immigrants during the administration of former President Barack Obama.
The protesters held paper signs that read: "We haven’t forgotten 3 million deportations.” The signs were referring to Biden’s role in the administration of former President Barack Obama, which deported nearly 3 million people.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited an overcrowded migrant camp in Texas on Friday, coming face to face with detainees held in horrific conditions and deploring an immigration crisis that he said was "overwhelming our system."
The vice president visited the McAllen Border Station, where he was taken to a sweltering outdoor portal where 384 men were held in a caged area.
The stench was horrendous, according to media reports from journalists traveling with Pence who were allowed into the area for 90 seconds.
The men, who allegedly crossed the border illegally, were crammed into a space where there was not enough room for all of them to lie down on the concrete floor.
They had no cots, mats or pillows, only silver polyester blankets. Grasping the chain link fencing, they shouted to reporters that they had been there 40 days or longer, were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth.
"To be honest with you, I was not surprised by what I saw," Pence said afterward. "I knew we would see a system that is overcrowded. It's overwhelmed and that's why Congress has to act."