Around 50-60 people amassed Wednesday in front of the San Francisco offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in protest of what they see as the agency’s inhumane treatment of migrants.
The demonstration marked the seventh day of lunch-hour protests out of 30, which organizers are calling a Month of Momentum. Wednesday’s event was arranged by Moms Take Action for Immigrant Families San Francisco and dubbed the Playdate Protest.
A pair of agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection guarded the entrance to the building, but no arrests were made.
Over half the crowd was comprised of parents and grandparents and had children ranging from ages 6 months to 16 years old in tow. Many were moved to anger over the Trump administration’s continued policy of housing children, separated from their parents, in detention centers.
Li Lovett, herself an immigrant whose father came to the US in the 1960s for graduate school, said current immigration policy reminded her of similar racism decades earlier.
She recalled the detention center at Angel Island that housed immigrants primarily of Asian origin from 1910-1940.
“This is not new, and this is not okay.”
Lovett’s was a familiar refrain among those gathered outside the 630 Sansome Street federal building, which houses various immigration related agencies including ICE and CBP.
Robb Godshaw, who works in the neighborhood and decided to spend his lunch hour leading chants instead of eating, said the current political climate reminded him of Nazi Germany.
“On my father’s side, a lot of my family never made it out of Germany and seeing the obvious parallels between this administration’s actions against refugees and the way Germany treated Jewish people, Romani people, homosexuals and others during the early days of the Holocaust is just striking.”
Others had become discouraged by government’s apparent lack of political will to resolve issues surrounding immigration. Event organizer Susan Bell expressed frustration at elected officials, particularly those in the GOP.
“The legislative process is broken, and it’s the fault of the Republican Party.”
Bell said she had seen a pervasive climate of fear and anxiety in many of the mothers’ social media groups she participates in, with much of the concern stemming from the recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.
Nevertheless, she believed brighter possibilities existed.
“We have plenty of resources. We have plenty of love for all the immigrant families to come here.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Lovett, who said:
“People who are in our communities deserve to be integrated into our communities.”