A rally on Courthouse Square to protest national immigration policies started at about 11 a.m. Saturday and went on through a hot lunch hour.

Courthouse Square gathering rallies against Trump immigration policies

Hundreds gathered on Courthouse Square Saturday to protest the separation of children from migrant families crossing the nation’s Southern border.

The downtown Dayton rally was one of a chain of rallies across the nation Saturday, taking aim at the policy of separating children from migrant adults crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

  

“I’m here to physically show that I am against the separation of families, and I want them reunited,” said Katherine Mullins, a Dayton Public Schools teacher who took part in the rally. “And I’m standing in solidarity with everyone here.”

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Since at least April, border enforcement agents and others have focused on the criminal prosecution of those who try to illegally enter the country. The Trump administration has said children are separated when they are found with adults who are not their relatives or if the adults are found somehow to be a danger to the children — or if the adults are prosecuted criminally.

That policy led to a backlash, and President Trump earlier this month signed an executive order permitting families to remain together.

“This is something I feel I can do, to show my voice, that I’m against all of this,” Mullins said. “I’m actually traumatized by this.”

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Anders Young, a Kettering resident also at the rally, said he believes immigrants need to seen as fellow human beings.

“There is so much dehumanizing rhetoric around all this,” Young said.

Linda Smith, another local resident at the gathering, said families belong together.

Separating children from their families, she said, is “worse than unhealthy; it’s dangerous. It permanently changes both the kids and the parents for the rest of their lives.”

Another rally-goer, who declined to give her name, said she teaches English to Spanish-speakers in the Dayton area.

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“Every single time I turn on the news and I see all this stuff, it’s really hard not to see my students,” she said. “I work very hard within the Latino community, and it really hurts me a lot.”

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, arrests on the U.S.-Mexico border peaked in 2000 at 1.64 million and have declined since, falling to 303,916 in 2017.

That’s an 81.5 percent decline in the number of arrests.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protections, there were 32,372 apprehensions on the Southwest border from Oct. 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018, compared to 31,063 apprehensions for the same period in fiscal year 2017.

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