Thousands of people have been protesting in several U.S. cities against Donald Trump's racist “zero tolerance” policies that are splitting migrant families and sending children to detention centers which activists and critics are comparing to Nazi concentration camps.
People across the U.S. have been organizing rallies against Trump's policies after a series of news pieces reported on the inhumane treatments of immigrants and the separation of families, intensifying political pressure on the government, sparking national outrage, and prompting Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, to call for ending the policy saying such regulations "punish children for their parents' actions."
And on Twitter, the hashtag #TrumpCamps has become a top trend in the United States where people are drawing comparisons between Trump's policies and those of German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, who also separated families into camps, sending millions to gas chambers.
On Saturday, the hashtag gained momentum when former CIA Director General Michael Hayden tweeted an image of Birkenau, an extermination camp in occupied Poland.
He didn't directly mention the “zero tolerance” policy in the first tweet, but later responses made it clear that he opposed it.
On Fathers' Day, lawmakers from the Democrat Party joined protesters outside immigration detention facilities in New Jersey and Texas for Father's Day demonstrations against the Trump administration's practice of separating migrant children from their parents at the border.
In South Texas Sunday, several Democrat lawmakers, including Senator Jeff Merkley, visited a Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen to call attention to the policy, while Representative Beto O'Rourke, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Texas, led a protest march to a tent city, a temporary detention facility for immigrant children set up near El Paso.
Some moderate Republicans have also called on Trump to stop the separations. Senators Susan Collins and Jeff Flake wrote to White House officials on Saturday seeking more information on the policy.
In May, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy in which all those apprehended entering the United States illegally, including those seeking asylum, would be criminally charged.
Cases that were previously treated administratively are now taken to federal courts as misdemeanors or felonies. This generally leads to children being separated from their parents and put into special custody by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
On Friday, U.S. officials said that about 2,000 children were separated from adults at the border between mid-April and the end of May. In some cases, families have not been able to locate their children afterward.
"This must not be who we are as a nation," said Representative Jerrold Nadler, one of seven members of Congress from New York and New Jersey who met with five detainees inside a facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey, including three who said they had young relatives removed from their care after seeking asylum at the border.
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) speaks during a protest against the recent U.S. immigration policy of separating children from their families when they enter the United States as undocumented immigrants, in front of a Homeland Security facility in Elizabeth, NJ, U.S., June 17, 2018. Photo | Reuters
Even Trump's own wife Melania, who herself is an immigrant, seemed to suggest that she was in opposition to her husband's policy on immigrants families. "Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform," her communications director, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN Sunday. "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."
Laura Bush, the former first lady of the U.S., expressed her rejection of the policy. “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” wrote Bush in an opinion piece.
Last week people in California, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Utah organized more than 20 marches, meetings and vigils in protest of the inhumane and cruel treatment migrants are refugees are receiving from the immigration authorities, through a platform called “Families Belong Together.”
The platform declares itself “against the separation of families and other human rights abuses associated with the U.S. migration apparatus” and demands immediate action regarding the inhumane treatment towards innocent people.