A branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and other immigrants-rights organizations rallied in Springfield Friday afternoon, criticizing a controversial U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy.
The Trump administration has come under fire for stepping up a policy that splits up families caught entering the country without proper documentation.
“It would be devastating to be pulled away from my mom,” said 8-year-old Kinley Lazare to the crowd gathered outside U.S. Attorney office.
White House officials have defended the practice, saying it is meant to deter those trying to enter the country without required documentation.
"The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever,” White House chief of staff John Kelly told NPR's John Burnett . “But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long."
Valeria Cueto, a teacher at a local high school, organized the rally.
“No matter where you are – if you hear about children being separate from their parents for seeking asylum, which they have a legal right to do, you have to speak out,” she said.
Springfield Alderman Kristin DiCenso, who was also in attendance, has supported a proposed resolution to name the capital city a “welcoming city.” The resolution stalled after it failed to get enough support from the Springfield City Council.
“We have people of all ethnicities here, we have immigrants here and they contribute to this city,” she said.