From Fred Meyer to the offices of the Bureau of Land Management, an estimated 250 people lined Northwest Garden Valley Boulevard in Roseburg on Saturday morning to protest U.S. immigration policy that takes children away from parents that are trying to get into the U.S. along the Mexican border.
Demonstrators carried signs saying “Melt I.C.E.” (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), “Love kids, don’t cage them” and “End Trump’s Cruel Internment Camps,” and several other signs that that people had created and brought to the hour-long event to display, along the busy street.
The Roseburg protest was one of nearly 700 marches or protests across the U.S., from immigrant-friendly cities like New York and Los Angeles to conservative Appalachia and Wyoming. They gathered on the front lawn of a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, near a detention center where migrant children were being held in cages, and on a street corner near Trump’s golf resort at Bedminster, New Jersey, where the president is spending the weekend.
Trump has backed away from family separations amid bipartisan and international uproar. His “zero tolerance policy” led officials to take more than 2,000 children from their parents as they tried to enter the country illegally, most of them fleeing violence, persecution or economic collapse in their home countries.
In Roseburg, the local event was organized by retired Roseburg attorney Diana Wales with a group called Indivisible Roseburg which is a part of the Indivisible movement, a national group whose mission on their website is to fuel a progressive grassroots network of local groups to resist the Trump Agenda.
“It’s a coordinated effort to lobby our congressional delegation to do what’s right and resist what is wrong,” Wales said. “We hope to end the policies of the Trump administration that are traumatizing children, that’s what this is all about.”
Mike Kroning said he had been a lifelong Republican but left the party a month ago.
“To use children and families as a means to achieve political ends seems like a cruel means and we shouldn’t put people in dog kennels and that’s what we’re doing at the border,” Kroning said.
Retired pediatrician Dr. Larry Hall came from Glide to participate in the rally because he felt like he had to make a statement.
“We’re here because we think that imprisoning children and keeping them from their families is a form of child abuse,” he said. “We think it’s unconscionable, we’re horrified, and we’re ashamed for what our country has done to the children of immigrants.”
A Roseburg woman named Blair, who did not want to give her last name, said she the issue means so much to her, she felt she had to put herself into action.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s outrageous, it reminds you of the concentration camps and the Japanese internment camps and all of that, and he (Trump) says he’s taking it back and let’s see how long, and are there going to be some children that are lost forever,” she said.
“This is a crime against humanity,” said attorney David Morrison. “it’s a violation of the most fundamental human right that can be defined, to take a child or infant away from their parents.”
Horns honked occasionally as the morning traffic passed by the demonstrators, and Wales said most appeared to be in support of their efforts.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.