Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Protesters from both sides of the immigration debate merged inside New York City's Grand Central Terminal late Thursday.
The protest was organized by Rise and Resist NYC, described as a silent protest to "object to Border Patrol and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] terrorizing immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers," the group posted on its Facebook page. They also railed against President Donald Trump and his policies toward migrants from Central America.
Rise and Resist activist Alexis Danzig said she organized the protest to oppose the Trump administration's "disastrous policies" at the U.S.-Mexico border." She said she opposes "locking up people who have come legally to apply for asylum and putting children and families separately into concentration camps with no means to reconnect them."
A small group of Trump administration supporters held campaign banners and posters as a show of support for President Donald Trump, border patrol officers and federal immigration personnel. They also blamed Democrats for not funding necessary improvements at the border.
The administration this week changed how it handles visas for migrants who cooperate with criminal investigations. The policy change allows the administration to deport cooperative migrants, even if they're awaiting a pending visa.
Immigration attorneys say the change will discourage migrants from reporting serious crimes.
"This is going to have a chilling effect," attorney Eileen Blessinger said. "When you report, You're essentially reporting yourself to ICE but now there's a risk that ICE might pick you up."
The federal government each year issues about 10,000 so-called "U visas," which can take as long as four years to process.
The administration also changed a policy concerning migrant families who are in the United States for life-saving medical care that's unavailable in their home country. Previously, migrants were given an exception for this condition. The government receives about 1,000 of those applications each year. The change also gives these migrants about a month to leave the United States, of be deported.
"They are telling these people they need to leave on their own," advocate Anthony Marino told MSNBC. "I don't know how they expect parents to pull their children from hospital beds, disconnect them from lifesaving treatments and go some place where they know they are going to die."
Democratic lawmakers say they will fight the rule change, which the Trump administration did not announce publicly.
"This administration is now deporting kids with cancer," Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey said.
"Perhaps that is why it was too ashamed to announce this policy change publicly."