Photography by Minerva Ortega for the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol

Protesters make their point regarding treatment of migrant children in US custody.

Protests were held across the country this week to voice outrage over the “inhumane conditions” in migrant detention camps where adults and children are being held.

The immigrant rights organization CHIRLA (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights) held a downtown demonstration on Monday, July 1. And on Tuesday, July 2, large groups of residents living in the San Fernando Valley, Burbank, Pasadena, Los Angeles and in Orange County protested in front of the offices of their congressional representatives.

The “action” was organized by the advocacy group Move On.

Demonstrators in the San Fernando Valley also gathered in front of Congressman Tony Cardenas’ office in Panorama City, and at the office of Congressman Brad Sherman in Van Nuys.

Analily Morales, a mother of a 4-year-old boy, traveled from the City of Commerce to join one of the protests. She carried a sign that read, “If you’ve ever wondered what you’d do during slavery, the holocaust or civil rights movement; you’re doing it right now.”

She was joined by her friend Gina, Gina’s son Jacob, and her friend Reina who she met on social media, and who shared concern for those being held.

“I’m here because my son’s watching me, and when he asks me when he’s older or when my grandkids are older what did I do at this time, I want to be able to tell them that I did something,” Morales said

Minerva Garcia joined the protest held in front of Congressman Adam Schiff’s office in Burbank. She carried a heartbreaking sign that held the names and faces of children who have died in the custody of the United States government.

It made it even more poignant to hear that it was made by a friend’s 14-year-old daughter.

“I can’t sit by and watch the inhumane treatment being perpetuated by our government, and using our tax dollars to torture these children and families,” Garcia said.

She echoed the concern of other protesters including members of LA’s Japanese and Jewish communities who see little difference between the detention facilities and concentration camps.

Garcia has been searching for organized action to close the camps and stop the separation of families. “I don’t want anymore immigrant deaths, especially children. One is too many and now seven that we know of is an epidemic.”

Protesters were hoping to talk to their legislators who were reportedly back in their district offices for the July 4th holiday. As they attempted to move their demonstration from the sidewalk into the offices of legislators, they chanted, “All immigrants are welcome,” “Never Again is Now” and sang “This Land is Your Land.”

The protests came on the heels of a congressional delegation visit to at least two facilities along the border, which reaffirmed the cramped and unhealthy conditions described as “inhumane.” They reported migrants without enough water were told to drink water from a toilet bowl, a charge that US Border Patrol Chief of Operations Brian Hastings has since said is untrue.

Physicians previously being allowed into the detention centers confirmed that children are malnourished and nursing mothers aren’t getting adequate water to support their infants. In previous weeks, President Trump ordered the curtailment of recreation time for children and additional reports indicated there was no soap or toothbrushes. Children as young as 7-years-old were given the responsibility of taking care of younger children. Private citizens attempted to drop off needed supplies but were turned away. 

Many protesters said they were looking toward the 2020 election to create change, but viewed the camps as a national emergency.

A protest leader with a bullhorn encouraged people to wave their arms to represent the “blue wave that will become a blue tsunami.”

“I feel like we have lost all humanity, and even though I’ve donated, I’m hopefully backing a candidate who will make a difference. I just want to bring acknowledgment to what’s going on right now, and I believe that protesting is patriotic, “ Morales said.

“History has taught us about concentration camps and my question to my fellow Americans to ask is, are they going to have to turn into ‘death camps’ for you to demand they be closed and treat people seeking refuge with dignity and humanity?” said Garcia.