PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal family immigration becomes more widely known, Oregon’s Democratic US senators continue their blistering broadsides.
On Saturday, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden plus US Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer visited a federal prison where immigrants from Latin America have been transferred and blasted the Trump administration for separating parents from children.
About 120 immigrants from Mexico and Central America are reportedly being held at the prison in Sheridan.
Sunday morning, Wyden stopped by the KOIN 6 News studios and said that what he saw in Sheridan “reaffirmed that this Trump ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy makes zero sense. And it reflects a zero understanding of Oregon and American values.”
Oregon’s lone Republican congressional member, Greg Walden, has not returned a call from KOIN 6 News for comment on this situation.
“It’s just breaking my heart”
Sunday afternoon, people gathered outside the ICE facility on Southwest Macadam in Portland to protest the separation of immigrant families.
The protest was organized by Direct Action Alliance, which said the Trump Administration was responsible for constructing what they called “concentration camps” to keep the children separated from their immigrant parents.
Organizers also compared this practice of immigration enforcement to the policies of the Nazis and said if the public doesn’t stand against this, then World War 2 will have been for nothing.
“I don’t normally get out and protest. This isn’t my MO very much,” Mary Welch told KOIN 6 News. “But for this, I just, it’s just breaking my heart.”
Protesters hope this pressures the Trump Administration to change its policy of prompts lawmakers to step in.
“On a day like today, Father’s Day, I am proud to be a father, have the privilege of having my family with me, being able to celebrate and have that moment with my family,” said Pedro Anglada, who was among the protesters.
He said this is an urgent issue.
“Knowing that other families are being put in detention centers, this is heartbreaking. It’s insulting and disgusting.”
Many in the immigrant community are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation, he said, so other people must be their voice.
“All Americans have to come in solidarity for the community that is hurting and they have to show up and use their privilege to speak out for those who may feel fearful about speaking out,” Anglada said.
Some of the protesters spent the night outside the facility and were still camped out Monday morning as they try to make their voices heard.
WATCH: I’m on the border investigating @realDonaldTrump’s cruel policy of ripping children away from their parents. #FathersDayofAction pic.twitter.com/cLVMQmmIh1— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) June 17, 2018
Administration response on Sunday
A top White House adviser on Sunday distanced the Trump administration from responsibility for separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, even though the administration put in place and could easily end a policy that has led to a spike in cases of split and distraught families.
President Donald Trump has tried to blame Democrats, who hold no levers of power in the government today, for a situation that has sparked fury and a national debate over the moral implications of his hard-line approach to immigration enforcement.
“Nobody likes” breaking up families and “seeing babies ripped from their mothers’ arms,” said Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president.
The Associated Press contributed to this report