Thousands of demonstrators came out on Friday to hold candle light vigils across the United States in protest against rounding up of undocumented immigrants and demanding closure of detention centers for migrant children and families.
In Washington, hundreds of people gathered at the Lafayette Square, near the White House, in response to a call for a collective vigil to push back against the federal government’s deportation tactics, including how children were being held at immigration centers and how raids were being conducted to round up immigrants.
People converged in other cities in Paso (Texas), Miami, San Diego (California) and New York as protesters - including activists, teachers and immigrants – shouted “classrooms, not cages”.
Among the protesters at Lafayette Square was Democrat Norma Torres, who was born in Guatemala.
“All of us present here are Americans, all of us came here to seek a better future and it is not a crime to come here and seek asylum,” Torres told the protesters, speaking in Spanish.
In her statements to the press, she said those responsible for the deaths at the Mexico border were the US administration and "the Northern Triangle presidents" referring to the three Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
She alleged that President Donald Trump’s administration was “incriminating a simple asylum request”.
Several of the banner the protesters were flashing read: "Children should not be put into cages", "Separation of Central American families is a crime against humanity”, “Close down concentration camps” and "Children are not criminals”.
Ingrid, a woman who came to the US six months ago with her children aged four and six, said she had risked all to come to the country from Honduras.
Referring to the US president she said, "If he has children and wife, he should have a little heart, conscience”.
To understand that, she said, “One does not come to cause trouble but build a future for children”.
Gerson Quinteros, a youngster from El Salvador, spoke of his experience in the US and how his life changed for better in the country.
“I graduated from the University of Colombia District in computer sciences and I believe that I would not have achieved this in El Salvador," Quinteros told EFE.
The protesters also rejected the threats of raids against undocumented immigrants beginning from next Sunday in nine US cities as Trump announced on Friday.
"We are prepared for this, we are educating our community," Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of the Casa de Maryland.
"We are demanding them to stop this injustice right now, this humiliation, mistreatment against our families," added Torres, who estimated that 52,000 families, including 15,000 children, have been detained.
The organizers estimated that 2,500 protesters attended the Washington vigil, something that was replicated in other cities across the country, apart from in Mexico, Australia and Costa Rica.
Immigrant detention centers are under public scrutiny after independent reports were disseminated along with government reports warning of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.
On Friday, US Vice President Mike Pence visited Donna detention center, near McAllen (Texas) and showed the conditions of the place to the cameras.
Ten days ago, US Department of Homeland Security's inspector general acknowledged extreme overcrowding, long stays and health risks in the Border Patrol facilities in south Texas, after a visit.
On Friday, at the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Elora Mukherjee, a Colombia University lawyer, gave her testimony after her visit to the Clint (Texas) detention facility a few weeks ago.
She said minors in the center lived in fear of the guards, slept little and did not have access to soap.
Mukherjee took to the same Congressmen who on Wednesday heard the testimony of a Guatemalan mother whose 19-month-old daughter died in May after falling ill while in the detention camp with her.