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Thousands across US join 'Keep Families Together' march to protest family separation

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Demonstrators lifted their fists and numerous, colorful signs. A 4-year-old in Washington D.C. raised one that read “I get my mommy. Why can’t she?” A New Yorker raised a sign that said “Amerikkka: separating families since 1619.” In El Paso, Texas, another said, “I really do care. Do you?” a reference to the jacket worn by first lady Melania Trump last week as she headed for the border to visit children separated from their families.

Iliana Pech Cruz came to the Washington rally because she is a DACA recipient from Mexico, who came to the United States as an infant. She drove from her home in North Canton, Ohio.

“I’m here to fight for everybody that deserves the rights in this country,” she said. “We’ll come when Trump is here, when he’s not, when he’s vacationing on his golf course, it doesn’t matter where he is because we’re here to fight. I’m not afraid of what might happen to DACA recipients. My parents taught me never to walk in fear.”

Demonstrators participate in "Keep Families Together" march to protest Trump administration's immigration policy in Manhattan, New York on June 30, 2018.Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

More than 100 protesters gathered outside the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where the president is spending the weekend.

On the way, we passed a group of more than 100 protesters gathered in a grassy area at the closest major intersection to the property, about two and a half miles from the entrance.

Cristina Jimenez, co-founder and Executive Director of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country, hopes the Families Belong Together march will mobilize the fight against the administration’s criminalization of immigrant communities.

“This is the critical moment to mobilize the community, mobilize the entire country and people of conscience who are looking at the media and understanding more of what this country is doing, particularly ICE and deportation agents, and we want to take a stand together with the rest of the country,” Cristina Jimenez, co-founder and executive director of United We Dream, largest immigrant youth-led network in the country, told NBC News.

Jimenez said her organization is asking “Congress to stop Trump’s deportation force and ensuring that as the administration asks for more money to target community with ICE and border patrol agents, we say no and abolish and defund them.”

Trump was already tweeting about immigration in the hours leading up to the march, referencing a growing call from immigration advocates to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“The Democrats are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen. I have watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13 & clean out the toughest of situations. They are great!” Trump tweeted.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump urged the men and women of ICE not to worry about the ongoing calls to abolish the department.

“You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements. So brave! The radical left Dems want you out. Next it will be all police. Zero chance, It will never happen!” he wrote.

Rallies against Trump’s immigration policy have sprung up in the weeks since its implementation, but Saturday’s could be among the largest yet and have received funding and support from the American Civil Liberties Union, MoveOn.org, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and The Leadership Conference. Local organizers have coordinated on-the-ground planning, and many have relied on informal networks established during worldwide women’s marches on Trump’s inauguration and its anniversary.

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