Mothers, children hold sit-in immigration protest

A small group of women and their young children held a peaceful sit-in Thursday in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington to demand President Donald Trump reunify immigrant families separated at the southern border.

The protest, organized by the Families Belong Together coalition, came on the day of the court-ordered deadline for the Trump administration to reunify families.

Unlike a similar protest last month in the same Senate office building where there were more than 500 arrests, there were no arrests related to the protests Thursday. The group dispersed after two warnings from Capitol Police, ending their sit-in and instead going door-to-door to senators’ offices.

Toddlers and pre-schoolers wore shirts and carried posters with “I AM A CHILD” printed on them, and a group spokesperson said the slogan was inspired by the iconic “I AM A MAN” declaration from the civil rights era.

The women sat in a circle and sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” with their children. Kids played with Play-Doh and colored with crayons.

California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris has an office in the building and came out to speak to the group.

“We’re all in this together,” Harris said. “This is about saying we are a community of people and that the children of any one of us is the children of all of us. These are our children.”

The US government has until the end of the day Thursday to reunite families separated at the border, but CNN reports more than 900 parents will probably not be reunited with their children Thursday. In some cases the parents can’t be located, have serious criminal records or have already been deported without their children.

A woman attending the protest, Allison McGill, held her 9-month-old son, who wore a tiny black T-shirt with “RESIST” printed on the front in white letters. Her four-year-old played nearby with the other kids at the sit-in. McGill said she can’t even imagine the trauma her own kids would experience if they were separated from her, and they “wouldn’t even understand” what was happening to them.

“We can be a better country than that,” McGill said.

Diana Bauerle brought her 3-year-old daughter, who wore a red and blue Wonder Woman cape and her hair in pigtails. Bauerle echoed the other women in the group and said she is here “first and foremost as a mother.”

“As a parent, my heart goes out to those suffering through this,” Bauerle said.