Mayors from around the nation and across the political aisle will converge on a border town Thursday morning to protest President Donald Trump‘s family separation policy.
Trump, appearing to cave to the global outrage and immense political pressure, signed an executive order on Wednesday ending his administration’s controversial policy of forcibly separating immigrant families at the border with Mexico. But thousands of children have already been taken away from their detained parents.
A bipartisan delegation of more than a dozen mayors, which strongly opposed the policy, is calling for the reunification of these families and for Congress to take action to ensure this doesn’t happen again. The mayors are traveling to the port of entry in Tornillo, Texas, where the Trump administration has erected a temporary tent city to house the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children.
“There are more than 2,300 children — some as young as 8 months-old — who are frightfully alone and must be reunited with their parents as soon as possible, and there is no clear answer as to how this will be done and how quickly,” said Steve Benjamin, the Democratic mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, who is also the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and is leading the group to Tornillo.
“The president’s indecision and erratic policymaking has impacted and, frankly, traumatized thousands of lives,” he said in a statement Wednesday night.
The delegation includes both Democratic and Republican mayors from California, Washington state, New Mexico, Texas, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, New York and Rhode Island. The officials will hold a press conference Thursday morning from Tornillo Port of Entry, some 20 miles from El Paso, Texas.
“This cruel policy has already caused untold damage that yesterday’s executive order won’t fix,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said via Twitter Thursday morning while on his way to the border town with the group.
The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, enacted by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in early May, stated that everyone who tries to cross the southwest illegally would be criminally prosecuted, and that parents will be separated from their children as they await trial.
According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2,342 children were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border from May 5 through June 9 under the new initiative.
The policy sparked outrage across the nation and abroad, with protesters taking to the streets in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York City, and Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, Trump said the “zero tolerance” policy would continue but his executive order is “about keeping families together while ensuring we have a powerful, very strong border.”
“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” Trump said. “Anybody with a heart would feel this way.”