LA City Hall
Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border was the focus of a protest outside Los Angeles City Hall Thursday as a crowd of demonstrators denounced the practice as barbaric and inhumane.

The protest comes after U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed recently that from May 6-19 of this year, 638 adults traveling with 658 children were prosecuted for improper entry and their children were separated from them, which organizers pointed out is an average of 329 children separated from their parents in a single week.

Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, State Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, and State Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, gathered with around 150 protesters, children and leading immigrant rights advocacy and legal organizations on the south lawn of City Hall.

The crowd size appeared to be less than what organizers had said would be at least 329 families in a symbolic reference to the number of children being taken from their parents each week.

“The fact that this administration is using the love of families as a weapon of fear is shameful and immoral,” Carrillo said.

The protest comes as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, along with the mayors of Houston, Tucson and Albuquerque sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asking them to stop the border separation practice.

“Such a policy is cruel. It is morally reprehensible. It is not an appropriate use of taxpayer resources, and it is utterly inconsistent with our values of decency and compassion — with our basic humanity,” the letter says.

Gina Amato, and attorney with Public Counsel, said many of the families coming to the border are fleeing violent and dangerous areas of Mexico and Central America.

“No mother should have to choose between leaving her child behind or risking the child’s life by trying to bring her to safety. Both result in separation that traumatize both mother and child,” said Amato, who spoke while holding her 9-month-old daughter.

Sessions has defended the policy of separating parents from their children if they are suspected of crossing the border illegally.

“If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them,” Sessions said this week during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. “We’ve got to get this message out. And you can’t be giving immunity to people who bring children with them recklessly and improperly and illegally.”

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