Immigrant rights activists protested in front of the Customs and Border Protection office in Cranston Friday. The local group was spurred to action by two recent federal immigration controversies.
The first was the revelation in April that the U.S. Government has been unable to contact some 1,500 undocumented children, placed with sponsors across the U.S.
The second was the May announcement by the Trump administration that it would press criminal charges against people crossing the border without authorization, which would involve separating minors from their parents.
“Today, we are asking where are the children?” said Gabriela Domenzain, who leads the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University. “Today we are asking for an end to the barbaric U.S. policy that takes children from the arms of their parents. Today we say, this must stop.”
Minors who cross the border alone without documentation are often sent to live with family members or foster families in the U.S. Those who are separated from family at the border are temporarily housed in federal facilities.
Luis Gordillo, a U.S. citizen and Rhode Island resident, discussed his children’s hardship when their mother was detained by federal immigration authorities last year.
“They started showing signs of emotional distress,” said Gordillo. “I was forced to become a single father. The trauma that is being done to the children is beyond inhumane.”
Gordillo’s wife is Lilian Calderon, the undocumented Rhode Island woman named in a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government over her 2017 detention.