About 100 people protested in front of Pittsburgh’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Monday, rallying against President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. They then marched to the Hot Metal Bridge, blocking traffic for about 45 minutes.
During the rally, speakers including immigrant families, religious leaders and community activists called for comprehensive immigration reform. They also demanded an end to the zero-tolerance policy and that the Trump administration reunite thousands of children separated from their families after crossing the border, despite the Executive Order Trump signed last week ending the policy that separated children from their families.
“That order didn’t really do anything,” said Monica Ruiz, of Casa San Jose. “In reality, all it did was just stop what was happening at the border. So now, instead of separating children and putting them in jail, they’re just going to put them in jail with their parents."
“A lot of the people who are coming, who are trying to cross the borders, are coming because they cannot stay, OK, with safety for their lives,” said Guillermo Romero, a pharmacology professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, says he feels the plea of the migrants. He fled political persecution in Peru nearly 40 years ago to come to the United States.
Romero said the current story of migrants seeking safety and refuge in the United States parallels those who came to Pittsburgh during and following World War II. He hoped the current migrants will be allowed to do the same.
“Members of congress are punting on the issue of what to do,” said Jaamal Craig. He’s the Executive director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, and was one of the rally organizers. “And so, people need to not only show up and vote in November, but they need to be calling their members of congress, demanding that they act.”
While no future immigration protests were mentioned, organizers emphasized that everyone should show up to protests for Antwon Rose, a 17-year-old boy fatally shot by police in East Pittsburgh last week.