‘The Beginning Stage of a Modern-day Holocaust’: Thousands Rally in Salt Lake City, Protesting Trump’s Immigration Policies that Have Separated Families

With prayers, banners, signs, songs, chants and angry speeches, protesters rallied by the hundreds Saturday at the Utah Capitol against the treatment of immigrants at the hands of the Trump administration.

“I never thought I was going to be protesting for children’s rights inside this country,” said Deyvid Morales, an activist and “Dreamer” who moved to the United States when he was 9. “Am I in a different country? Did I get deported to a different country already?”

About 2,500 people, by Utah Highway Patrol’s estimate, rallied at the Capitol — many of them marching up State Street from City Creek Park. It was one of some 700 coordinated events nationwide under the banner “Families Belong Together.” Other Utah events were organized in Logan, Provo, St. George, Kanab and Moab, according to the progressive group MoveOn.org.

The rallies were aimed at calling out President Donald Trump and his policies that have seen “zero tolerance” of immigrants crossing the southern border — a policy that, before Trump reversed himself, called for separating children from their families and detaining them.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., was one of the first members of Congress to attempt to investigate those detention centers. He recounted to the Salt Lake City rally attendees how federal workers at a center in Brownsville, Texas, called the cops when he tried to gain access.

“They want to keep secret what they’re doing to children separated from their families,” Merkley said.

Merkley also talked about how federal officials have blocked access to the bridge crossing the Rio Grande, leading to the one legal port of entry for people to apply for asylum in the United States.

“Isn’t it pretty diabolical for [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions to say there’s no reason to cross the border except at ports of entry, and then to block people at ports of entry?” Merkley said.

By Sean P. Means for THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
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