A coalition of advocacy groups flooded the streets of downtown Los Angeles, with thousands of people turning out to decry the Trump administration’s policy of detaining families caught trying to enter the United States illegally at the Mexico border or come seeking legal asylum.

“If you are pro-family, you cannot separate families,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said to the crowd at Los Angeles City Hall Saturday. “… We’ve got a message for the White House: We care, and so should you,” Garcetti said.

The mayor’s speech was followed by remarks from model Chrissy Teigen, and then a performance of “What’s Goin’ On” and a new song, titled “Preach,” by her husband, singer and musician John Legend.

“This is a reflection moment,” California Sen. Kamala Harris said. “This is a moment in time that is requiring us to look in a mirror and ask a question, and that question is `Who are we?’ I believe the answer is `We are better than this.”’

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-South Los Angeles, who has been embroiled in an escalating war of words with President Donald Trump in recent days, later took the stage and did not hold back.

“How dare you take the babies from mothers’ arms?” she asked of the Trump administration. “How dare you take the children and send them all across the country into so-called detention centers. You are putting them in cages; you are putting them in jails, and you think we’re going to let you get away with that? I don’t think so!”

“I know there are those who are talking about censuring me, kicking me out of Congress … shooting me,” Waters continued, alluding to recent death threats that prompted her to cancel two speaking events in the South she had planned for this weekend. “If you shoot me, you better shoot straight — there’s nothing like a wounded animal.”

Other scheduled speakers included Secretary of State Alex Padilla, county Supervisor Hilda Solis, California Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom, and state Sen. Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles. MoveOn, CHIRLA, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the Women’s March LA Foundation and the Council on American-Islamic Relations were among the many groups participating.

The “Families Belong Together – Freedom for Immigrants March,” was set to follow the rally, and will end in front of the immigration holding facility on Aliso and Alameda streets. Attendees were urged to wear white in a show of unity.

The L.A. march was one of more than 700 protests held nationwide on Saturday.

Other #FamiliesBelongTogether Southern California rallies were held throughout the Southland including Burbank, Pasadena, Long Beach, Irvineunty, Malibu, Laguna Beach, Carlsbad, National City, Ramona, San Diego, Palm Springs, Moreno Valley, Riverside and Temecula.

For the past several weeks, the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on undocumented immigrants — including the now-rescinded policy of separating children from their parents when they are apprehended at the Mexican border — has sparked an international outcry.

Trump agreed to rescind the separation part of the policy in late June, but opponents say the administration has no plan for the speedy reunification of those families and that more than 2,000 children are being held in detention centers around the country. On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department filed papers in Los Angeles federal court seeking to have the families held together, indefinitely, in detention centers.

Trump addressed the issue with a Tweet at around 12:45 p.m. Saturday that said: “When people come into our Country illegally, we must IMMEDIATELY escort them back out without going through years of legal maneuvering. Our laws are the dumbest anywhere in the world. Republicans want Strong Borders and no Crime. Dems want Open Borders and are weak on Crime!”

At least 20 people participated in a counter-protest by the group L.A. County for Trump at the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles that was also shares on Facebook and YouTube. The emphasized that similar border enforcement actions were taken during the Obama and Bush administrations but didn’t draw the outcry the Trump measures have. They also carried posters and wore T-shirts commemorating who have been killed by undocumented immigrants.”

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