Hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Austin today to call for an end to the detention of migrants.
The nationwide protests come after reports of unsanitary conditions at detention centers holding children at the Clint and El Paso border camps in the past week and an internal report from the Department of Homeland Security today that called overcrowding at the facilities in the Rio Grande Valley "dangerous."
Munira Fareed attended a gathering at Republic Square Park with her 15-year-old son, Rumi, a first-generation American.
"It’s not OK for parents to be separated from their children. It’s not OK for the camps to have the inhumane conditions that we’re hearing about – now that lawyers and doctors and congress people are going inside the camps," said Fareed, who also attended a smaller demonstration outside U.S. Sen. John Cornyn's Austin office. "We’re getting a look at how our own government is treating humans and children and it’s not OK."
On Sunday, Cornyn called on lawmakers to address the humanitarian crisis at the border in an op-ed in The Monitor. Cornyn argued that his legislative solution, known as the HUMANE Act, "would provide real relief for folks in Texas and other border states who are struggling to manage the crisis."
The legislation would establish new processing centers in areas struggling to keep up with the inflow of migrants seeking asylum protections and end the practice of separating families as they continue through court proceedings.
Protesters outside Cornyn's office on Sixth Street argued he hasn't done enough to improve the treatment of migrants at the border. Five protesters, including Fareed and her son, met with Katy von Rosenberg, staff assistant for Cornyn, calling on the senator to make a stronger push for the HUMANE Act and to visit the facilities at Clint and Taylor.
Cheasty Anderson, senior policy associate for the Children’s Defense Fund, addressed the larger crowd at Republic Square, calling the treatment of migrants at border camps a "criminal injustice."
"I’m here today to thank you all for looking, because we cannot look away. The Trump administration is counting on us looking away," Anderson said. "When we stop looking, they win."