Beto O’Rourke led a march to Tornillo, Texas today in protest of a policy separating immigrant children and parents. Although the policy has been in place and used in previous presidencies, it has recently gained national attention following a “zero tolerance” policy put in place by President Donald Trump’s administration, which led to a large increase in the number of children separated from their parents. O’Rourke is running against Ted Cruz for Cruz’s Texas Senate seat. Joe Kennedy III, who is running for Congress in the 4th District of Massachusetts, also attended the event and spoke there with O’Rourke. Read on for more details about the march today, how many attended, and see crowd photos.
According to NPR, hundreds participated in the Father’s Day march, where they met at the Tornillo-Guadalupe Toll Plaza. However, people who were there estimated the size at closer to 1,000 to 2,000 participants. In one of the tweets below, Sally Beauvais wrote that she believed there were close to 2,000 protesting.
Here’s a look at some of the cars lined up before the event started:
Here’s a video from the event:
Omar Reyes, who attended the event, shared a number of photos showing just how many people attended and the enthusiasm for the march.
Many people attended the event, and some even came from states outside of Texas, like these marchers from New Mexico:
Texas nurses also joined in:
O’Rourke said during the event: “We’re wanting to make sure that everyone in this country knows what is happening here, in their name, in Tornillo, where kids have traveled 2,000 miles, some alone, some with their parents, are being held in detention camps, tent cities that have just been constructed over the course of this last week…”
But, O’Rourke added, this has been a problem for multiple administrations. “It’s not on the Republicans, either, and we’ve got to be real careful about that. This isn’t on a political party. I wouldn’t even say this is on this administration, although this administration has carried it to its most inhumane, logical conclusion. But we have been ignoring this or perpetuating it for many years and many administrations right now. This has got to be on us to get it right. I think it’s going to be on us, the people of the border, who do that.”
Joe Kennedy III also attended and spoke at the march, sharing photos from the event on Twitter:
Tornillo, Texas came under the spotlight when the Trump administration announced that tents will be constructed to house an overflow of immigrant children in Tornillo, NBC News reported. The tent city is estimated to have 450 beds for children, sources said. Tornillo’s tent city will be the first temporary shelter for children.
The following photos from the event were shared with Heavy by Jonathan Macias:
Will Hurd, Republican State Representative, toured the tent facilities on Friday night and said the conditions at the shelter were good, and it was run by emergency management professionals, ABC 7 reported. He said 16- to 17-year-old boys were staying there and are fed three meals a day, plus snacks. However, Hurd opposes the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policies. “If we have to separate kids from their parents, then we probably need to rethink our strategy,” he said.
The Tornillo shelter has 400 beds prepared, and Hurd said it will be hitting capacity soon, El Paso Times reported. He added that officials are discussing increasing the number of beds to 4,000. The shelters resemble tent shelters that housed Hurricane Harvey victims last year. Each tent has space for 20 children and two adults. The shelters also have showers, bathrooms, medical facilities, fire trucks, a place to meet with case management workers and lawyers, and a “chow hall” for a couple hundred at a time, Hurd said. Each tent has an AC unit, Hurd added.
Here’s another video from the event, showing the crowd and part of Kennedy’s speech:
Journalists were given access to certain sheltered and photographed and shared stories from them this week. A shelter in Brownsville, which houses 1,500 boys ages 10 to 17, opened its doors to reporters this week. According to NBC, the children were allowed outside for about two hours a day. Last week, more than 570 unaccompanied children were being held in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol, hundreds of them for more than a 72 hour legal limit.
Here are more photos and videos from today’s march:
An arial photo:
Some participants also decorated their cars for the march:
We will update this story if an official crowd estimate becomes available.