Fear of mass deportations and arrests prompted by a recent New York Times report were part of the motivation for rallies across the U.S., including one in San Luis Obispo on Saturday.
To start the Lights for Liberty rally in Downtown San Luis Obispo, the names of migrants who have died while trying to cross into U.S. were read aloud.
The voice of Rita Casaverde, an immigrant from Peru, quivered as she read the names of children, like 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo, who died.
The Lights for Liberty rallies, which were scheduled to take place in around 700 cities across the U.S., came just days after Pres. Trump defended his policies on border patrol.
“Hispanics love what I’m doing because number one they don’t want to lose their job, don’t want to take a pay cut and most importantly they don’t want crime,” Trump said.
But the protestors holding signs in San Luis Obispo passionately disagree.
“People should not be incarcerated for more than two weeks or a month and they’re being held there for months in inhumane conditions,” Casaverde said. “So we want that to change, we want the process to be clean and fair.”
“No matter who they are, where they come from, we’re all human and all belong together,” San Luis Obispo resident Janet Murphy said.
Federal data reported by NBC News shows U.S. Border Patrol took into custody about 133,000 unauthorized immigrants in May. Nearly 64 percent of them were family units with children.
The NYT report said the Trump administration would order mass raids Sunday to arrest undocumented immigrants.
“You can’t help but feel emotional, angry, upset,” Briana Ronan, a protestor from San Luis Obispo, said.
The issue was emotional for many protestors, who called for the U.S. to expedite the asylum process for refugees, create an easier route to citizenship for immigrants, and keep families together.
“This is not right, this is not normal and we have to change what’s happening at the border,” Casaverde said.