SALT LAKE CITY – Demonstrators showed their support for children impacted by a new zero tolerance policy for illegal border crossings.
Melarie Wheat brought her three young sons to a rally outside the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City. The group is protesting President Trump’s immigration policy.
“As a mother I think of my kids when I think of immigrant children who are being taken away from their parents," Wheat said.
Anyone caught crossing the border illegally will face federal prosecution. Critics say the policy has separated parents from their children at the border, some as young as 18 months old.
“Just in the first few weeks of May alone, over 600 children have been separated from their parents and that’s about 66 a day,” said John Mejia, Legal Director for the ACLU of Utah. “In one case, a mother from the Congo whose child was ripped from her and taken to Chicago while she was in Texas.”
ACLU of Utah and other activists called on the U.S. Attorney to stop being complicit in the prosecution of people who are seeking asylum. They demanded the immediate reunion of hundreds of immigrant children and parents.
“This is unprecedented," Mejia said. "There’s no reason to prosecute people who come to this country who are seeking asylum. They’re not criminals."
“When I drop my kids off at the babysitter they’re sad, but I know that I’m going to be back in a few hours. But these parents have no idea where their kids are. Their kids don’t know where their parents are,” Wheat said.
The rally is one of more than 150 taking place across the country. Supporters say they are determined to raise awareness about an issue they feel is just starting to pick up steam.
“It’s something everyone should be concerned about," Wheat said. "These are just children. They haven’t done anything."