PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Drawing attention to the issues of child separation and detention camps along the US borders, hundreds of people rallied in Portland and in Beaverton as part of nearly 200 events across the US.
Organizers for the National Day of Action said they chose this day for their rallies since many lawmakers are back in their home districts for the 4th of July.
In Portland, hundreds gathered in the courtyard of the federal building as Rep. Earl Blumenauer called for changes to ICE. The longtime congressman said the US needs an agency that protects our borders and respects humanity.
In Beaverton, people rallied outside Rep. Suzanne Bonamici’s office and delivered a letter calling for the end to the detention camps and the reunification of children with their families.
“I think it’s a horrendous thing that children are in these camps and sleeping on cement and not getting their basic needs met,” said rally-goer Kim Lawler. “It’s terrible to think about all these kids.”
Organizers said the Trump Administration is intentionally running camps to terrorize immigrants and criminalize those seeking asylum.
Lawler brought her grandchildren to speak up for children at the border. For her and thousands of others like her, the reports of overcrowding, unsafe and unsanitary conditions along with families separated at border facilities sparked these protests across the US.
From Eugene to Salem to Beaverton and Portland, people gathered to send a message to their lawmakers: Changes must be made.
In June, Warren Binford, a children’s rights advocate and law professor at Willamette University, gained access to the same facility lawmakers visited this week.
“The border patrol told us the children don’t belong there and they don’t want the children there,” Binford said. “It was really some of the worst conditions we’ve ever seen. And when we started to ask the children how long they’d been there we were horrified to learn some of the children had been in these conditions for over 3 weeks.”
Many of these children could be very easily reunited with families, Binford said, but the Trump Administration hasn’t taken action.
“What I’d really like to see happen is that the government stop wasting taxpayer money keeping these children in custody who don’t need to be there and have a legal right to be with their families.”