Sharpton organized a gathering on Saturday of faith leaders, politicians and activists at a street corner in East Harlem, near a shelter where 239 children who were separated from their parents are being housed. The youngest child was reportedly just 9 months old. Federal authorities sent them to the city without alerting local or state officials.
“It is important in President Trump’s home town that the word go out and be clear that we are ashamed of the act that he put in place,” said Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network. “Let people far and wide know that we are ashamed of this New Yorker that ought to know better.”
In April, the Trump administration began vigorously enforcing its “zero tolerance” policy against anyone caught crossing the border illegally into the United States, including those who are seeking asylum. Under the policy, the government was taking children away from their parents.
In response to a global backlash, Trump appeared to signal an end to the policy on Wednesday by abruptly ordering immigration officials to stop ripping families apart.
By Tuesday, federal authorities said more than 2,000 children were separated from their parents and placed in cages in detention facilities across the nation. The president’s new approach, however, is still unclear to many, as children already placed in detention centers would seemingly remain in custody.
Saturday’s event is more evidence that Sharpton and other activists don’t trust that Trump will do the right thing. After Trump’s supposed policy shift, Sharpton led a rally on Thursday in Texas with a group of religious leaders. They had demanded that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions allow them to meet with the families because they “all have the right to a ministerial visit,” he said.