Protesters gathered at U-S Senator Ron Johnson’s office in Madison today, to express outrage about the treatment of immigrant children at the US-Mexico border. They want the Senator to use his position as Homeland Security committee chair to reunite children separated from their families at the border.
The family separations are the result of Republicans’ zero-tolerance policy — which mandates prosecution for anyone who crosses the border illegally.
More than fifty protesters crowded into the hallway outside Johnson’s office near East Towne Mall. Johnson wasn’t at his office today, but one of his aides sat and listened to their concerns.
The protesters were from the group Indivisible Madison, which was launched in the wake of President Trump’s election. The event began with chants and speeches in the parking lot outside the office building, where they stood in front of dozens of dolls in animal cages.
Jaime Alvarado was one of those speakers. He’s a Colombian immigrant and president of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin.
He says the current family separation issue is a symptom of a larger flaw in American foreign policy.
“America is an accomplice to the present system,” Alvarado says. “We raid Central American countries with corporate greed, buy out politicians, diminish national resources and put them in debt.”
The protesters demanded reunification of families today, as well as an end to the Republicans’ zero-tolerance policy, and prohibiting family internment.
They also want politicians and law enforcement to stop treating asylum-seekers like criminals and hold open public investigative hearings on current border practices.
Madison resident Michelle Russell attended the protest with her two sons, one is four and one is seven. They both held homemade signs — the four-year-old’s said “don’t kidnap kids OR grownups.”
She hopes Johnson listens to protesters today.
“I really want him to stand up for what’s right and stand up for families,” Johnson says.
Johnson’s office did not speak with media at the protest and did not return a call for comment afterward.
But Johnson told CNN yesterday that he’s frustrated with how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is handling separated families and that the lack of progress toward reunifying them quote “boggles [his] mind.”