Photos: Protesters Outside White House Call to #CloseTheCamps | Sojourners

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Close the Camps Protests

By Sarah Little 07-03-2019

Advocacy groups MoveOn, United We Dream, the American Friends Service Committee, and Families Belong Together collectively hosted peaceful protest gatherings across the U.S. on July 2, calling on members of Congress to defund border detention centers immediately and #CloseTheCamps. The masses who protested outside the White House were not daunted when heavy rains greeted their chants.

Living conditions for families ⁠— mostly from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador ­⁠— in detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border have been widely reported and include findings of severe overcrowding and insufficient food, clothing, and medicine. 

“These kids need hugs, human touch, they need their parents,” said Erin, a Fairfax native who said she was arrested the year before at another peaceful protest against inhumane detention. “This trauma will forever change their lives. It’s heartbreaking.”

Last week Congress passed a bipartisan $4.6 billion measure to deliver aid to the southern border. The Senate version of the bill, signed by President Donald Trump, provides $2.9 billion to resource Department of Health and Human Services and $1.3 billion to the Department of Homeland Security, the bulk of which Border Patrol can use to improve conditions in border facilities, expand medical care, and provide access to essential items. Pushback from House members included a desire for stronger migrant protections, lawmaker access to holding facilities and legal services funding for migrant children.

According to a New York Times report, senior managers at U.S. Customs and Border Protection described what we are witnessing now is a “ticking time bomb,” set to go off any at moment. Still, this measure will not deliver sufficient aid to children and unaccompanied minors, according to many at the protest who expressed concern for the future of migrant families.

“I’m from a super conservative Christian town where a lot of people forget that Jesus was a refugee and immigrant. He was also seeking asylum," Marisa Edmundson, who came all the way from Colorado to attend the rally, said. "I want to remind people from my Church of that — that the person who you live for is a refugee, and that’s who you’re denying at the border.”

Sarah Little is a multimedia journalist and storyteller based in NYC.

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