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'Families Belong Together' rallies draw thousands across U.S.

By Susan McFarland
1/5
'Families Belong Together' rallies draw thousands across U.S.
Protesters hold up signs as they walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at the End Family Separation rally in New York City on Saturday. Demonstrators gathered in cities across the United States to protest the White House's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that has prompted the separations and detentions of migrant families. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

June 30 (UPI) -- Hundreds of marches across the United States on Saturday drew thousands of protesters demanding the Trump administration reunite families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In cities such as New York and Los Angeles to conservative strongholds across the Deep South, "Families Belong Together" rallies drew people from both sides of the issue to more than 700 marches scheduled throughout the country.

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Political and public outcry against the Trump administration's policy of separating parents from children upon arrest prompted the president to sign an executive order last week saying parents and children would be kept together in detention.

Administration officials have offered different explanations for how the policy would be being implemented, and how and when all approximately 2,300 children would be reunited with parents.

RELATED DoJ: Migrant children can be detained for more than 20 days

Saturday's events were a call to President Donald Trump to reunite the families immediately, cease family detention and reverse the administration's zero tolerance border-crossing policy, organizers said.

"Parents should not be criminally prosecuted for doing what all parents do, which is bring their children to safety," a statement from "Families Belong Together" obtained by NBC News said. "This horrible nightmare for families will only end when Trump permanently stops his 100 percent prosecution policy." In New York City, about 30,000 showed up for a march across the Brooklyn Bridge chanting "Immigrants built this bridge."

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Sweltering heat did not deter thousands gathering at the White House for one of the day's largest protests, which included many wearing white for the cause and carrying signs that read, "What's next? Concentration Camps?" and "I care, do you?" in reference to a jacket first lady Melania Trump wore recently on a trip to visit child migrants.

RELATED Outgoing ICE chief blames Congress for border separations

Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., joined demonstrators in Atlanta and drew parallels between Saturday's protests and the anti-segregation rallies of the 1960s.

"As a nation and a people we can do better," Lewis said. "Don't give up. Don't give in. Keep marching."

In Dallas, organizer Michelle Wentz said opposition to the Trump administration's "barbaric and inhumane" policy crossed political party lines, according to CBS News. Marchers outside city hall shouted "We care!" while carrying signs with slogans such as "Compassion not cruelty" and "November is coming."

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The president tweeted about current immigration laws during the rallies, which also included Trump supporters.

"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!"

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Counter-protesters showed up at many rallies -- including in Washington, Phoenix and Boston -- and carried Trump flags and shouted "Build that wall."

RELATED Police arrest 575 at Capitol Hill immigration protests

In Alabama, a counter-protester was taken into custody after pulling out a gun in Huntsville, WHNT reported. No shots were fired and no injuries were reported, police said. Police say the man pulled out the gun when he got into a verbal confrontation with a protester.

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