Demonstrators gathered in the shadow of the Gateway Arch Saturday to protest the separation of more than 2,300 migrant children from their parents at the U.S. southern border.
A brass band wove through the crowd as St. Louis-area residents chanted and waved handmade signs in Kiener Plaza. The Families Belong Together rally in St. Louis was one of hundreds of marches held nationwide on Saturday.
President Trump signed an executive order on June 20 that effectively ended the separation of migrant families at the border, but many families have yet to be reunited.
The rally featured several speakers, including immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
“It makes me angry, but it’s the fuel I need to come out here, to take a stand, to be in this heat just like each and every one of you. Every drop of sweat today means something,” said Rigo, a member of MO Dreamers and recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. St. Louis Public Radio is not using his last name because of his immigration status.
Protesters streamed down the center of Market Street, carrying signs with slogans such as “children are not pawns” and “make America humane again.”
Sunset Hills resident Chi Nguyen-Rettig was among the crowd. Her mother fled Vietnam 43 years ago while pregnant and gave birth to her in the U.S.
“So many Americans were supportive. They advocated for us. They took us in. They helped us out. That is the America I grew up knowing,” said Nguyen-Rettig. “When I saw what the government was doing, even before this act of separating the children, I could see that this America was not the America that I was raised to uphold, to defend.”
Mary Brunstrom also attended the march, holding a sign that read “this fight is for the soul of America.” The Central West End resident immigrated to the U.S. from Australia in 1980 and became a citizen in 2000.
“I believe that we are inflicting untold and unwarranted cruelty on families,” said Brunstrom. “We’re all immigrants to this country. We need to reflect on that.”
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