Dozens of demonstrators gathered in Huntington Station on Saturday to protest the tear gassing of asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border and the now-abandoned practice of separating migrant children from their parents.
"I'm here protesting what's happening at the border," said West Hempstead resident Maria Llivicura, 26, adding immigrants have a human right to live in the U.S. but "we aren't giving them a chance."
The roughly 60 or so protesters who assembled at Route 110 and Jericho Turnpike were part of a nationwide "Stop The Tears Protest" organized by Families Belong Together, an umbrella organization for groups that oppose the policies. Many Long Island organizations, including Long Island Inclusive Communities Against Hate, Latinos Unidos de Long Island and Long Island Network for Change, joined the cause.
At Saturday's rally, some demonstrators held signs saying "Solidarity with Refugees" and Tear Gas For Refugees Is Criminal."
"We're demanding justice and compassion at the border. We're most upset about the tear gassing of children," organizer Eve Krief said.
On Sunday, United States Border Patrol agents fired tear gas at migrants who tried to evade a Mexican police blockade in Tijuana and cross into the U.S. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan has said that four agents were hit with rocks, according to the Associated Press.
President Donald Trump has defended the agents' actions, saying they were "being rushed by some very tough people" and that the tear gas was "very safe," the AP reported.
Protesters also spoke of their frustration over the separation of migrant children from parents who crossed the U.S. border illegally. Facing strong opposition, Trump ended this practice in June.
"I believe what the Trump administration is doing is appalling," said Joseph Sarno, president of the Huntington Young Democrats. "We're all human and deserve respect and love. These people are coming here from deplorable situations, and they're coming here risking their lives, so we need to help them.”