There were more than 700 Families Belong Together rallies across America today, including one in downtown Chicago. The rallies were ostensibly organized to protest the new government policy of declaring immigrant children “unaccompanied minors” and separating them from their parents at the border, but they also condemned the Trump administration’s refusal to grant asylum to refugees from domestic and gang violence and the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the travel ban on residents of seven countries, five of which are majority Muslim.
An estimated 60,000 people gathered in and around Daley Plaza at 11 AM this morning, including a marching band, voter registrars, Captain America, and a family who might have been Aztec warriors. The heat index was above 100 degrees, but thousands stayed through the hour-long rally and the march afterward. (The column of marchers was so long that as some were returning to the plaza at the end of the 15-block route, others were still just leaving.) There was a handful of speakers, though the crowd was so vast that their voices didn’t carry very far. One young woman spoke movingly about how her father may have been deported. A physician talked about immigrating to the U.S. from India when she was two years old in order to seek medical care. She described the “toxic trauma” she sees now in Chicago among children who live in constant fear of their families being split up. Two more young undocumented Chicagoans informed the crowd that they are part of the community here and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be abolished. A final speaker said that abolishing ICE wouldn’t be going far enough: the government needed to repeal the 2003 immigration bill that led to the establishment of ICE in the first place.
At noon, the march stepped off from Daley Plaza, heading south on Clark to the federal building at 101 W. Congress, where the Chicago office of ICE is located. It stopped briefly so the band could play a rendition of “The Imperial March” from Star Wars before looping back north on Dearborn. A few marchers later attempted to occupy the building, but they were stopped and kettled by police, according to reports on Twitter.