Minneapolis protesters decry Trump administration’s ‘unconscionable’ treatment of migrants

Minneapolis resident Yardley Stebbings participates in a march against the Trump Administration's immigration policies on Sunday, June 30 in Minneapolis.

Hundreds marched through LynLake and South Uptown on June 30 to protest the Trump Administration’s immigration policies and its treatment of migrants.

An estimated crowd of roughly 1,500 to 2,500 marchers decried conditions on the southern border and protested the administration’s ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations. They chanted slogans like “free our children” and “repeal the ban,” before holding a rally at the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis.

“We can’t go about our regular Sunday as usual,” said Mari Mansfield of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), which organized the event with the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “People have to stand up and fight back.”

Scores of marchers brought signs to the event.

The march came as lawyers, doctors and members of Congress describe squalid, dangerous and inhumane conditions at Texas Border Patrol facilities as the Trump administration continues to restrict the flow of Central American migrants into the U.S.

A Willamette University law professor told the New Yorker that older children are being asked to take care of younger children and that during a lice outbreak, a group of children were asked to share a comb and then punished for losing it by being forced to sleep on a cement floor. The day after the march, at a facility in Flint, Texas, women told Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that they had been told to drink out of toilet bowls.

The march was held exactly a year after hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. marched to protest President Trump’s immigration policies and nearly a week after a 25-year-old El Salvador man and his 23-month-old daughter drowned in the Rio Grande, with the image of their lifeless bodies causing widespread outrage.

Marchers decried those conditions Sunday and also spoke out against the Trump administration’s family-separation policy, which Trump rescinded a year ago, though potentially thousands of children have yet to be reunited with their families. Some marchers read the names of kids who have died in U.S. custody, and others called for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Southwest resident Andrea Simon carried a sign that read “free our children, jail our POTUS.” She said she thinks people deserve to be treated humanely, regardless of their immigration status.

Simon said refugee status doesn’t make someone “less of a person” and that the U.S. should treat them with dignity. She also said the administration’s behavior will become commonplace unless people speak out against it.

A woman holds a sign during the march.

Anne Wagemaker, a teacher at Lucy Craft Laney Community School in Minneapolis, said she thinks it’s “unconscionable that we have children in the condition they’re in at the border.” She said attending an event like the march “makes you feel like you’re a little more powerful.”

Ryan Donnelly of St. Paul came to the march with his family, including his daughters, who have met immigrant kids who have been separated from their parents. “It’s just traumatic for kids,” he said.

Southwest resident Rosemary Dolata said many people in the area are descendants of immigrants, adding that “children are everybody’s children.” She said things need to change at the border and that it helps when people show up to events like this.

“It helps people to remember that their voices matter,” she said. “It’s harder to ignore people when you see real faces.”

Hundreds of people rallied in the First Universalist Church after the march.