Rallies across North America protest separation of children from their families in the U.S.

TORONTO - Crowds of people gathered at rallies across the U.S. and Canada today to protest an American policy that separated families who were caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
    
Alexandra Vaz, who organized a rally outside the American Consulate in Toronto, says she decided to act because as a mother of a young girl, the situation frustrated her.
    
U.S. President Donald Trump recently ordered that families no longer be separated, but officials estimate there are still more than 2,000 children who have not been reunited with their loved ones.
    
The message of Toronto's protesters was clear: keep families together.
    
Laura Prado, an immigrant from Uruguay who arrived to Canada in 1986, says she could not bear the notion of being separated from her child.
    
More than a dozen protests were organized across the country, including in Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa and Vancouver.

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Meantime, in the U.S., crowds marched in New York City and staged two separate protests in Boston.

In Washington DC, thousands gathered Lafayette Square across from the White House, chanting ``Shame! Shame! Shame!'' as speakers denounced the separation of children from parents after they entered the U.S. illegally.
     
Protesters waved signs in English and Spanish. The slogan on one English sign demanded, ``Where are the children?''
     
``Melania & Ivanka, stop the child abuse,'' another slogan declared.
    
The participants then marched on the Justice Department.

Demonstrators also gathered near Trump's golf resort at Bedminster, New Jersey, where he happens to be spending the weekend.

They waved signs with the messages, ``Do you know where our children are?'' and ``Even the Trump family belongs together.''
     
It's not known if Trump saw the protest. 

In New York City, protesters also chanted ``shame!'' and sang ``shut detention down!'' as they marched in 30-degree heat at a Manhattan park before crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, near the federal courthouse. 

An organizer ran down a list of people marchers are blaming for the family separations. Among their targets: President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the agencies Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.
     
In Columbus, Ohio, at least one person was arrested when protesters blocked a downtownstreet after about 2,000 people attended a two-hour rally outside the Statehouse.
     
The Columbus Dispatcher reports that police initially tried to shepherd the protesters from the intersection Saturday. A woman was taken away by police after a scuffle.
     
Melissa Myers, a nurse, told those gathered for the rally, ``You don't have to be a parent to be outraged. You just have to be a decent human being.'' She said she's never attended a rally before, much less organized one.

And in Dallas, hundreds donned white T-shirts and clothing, carried protest signs and gathered in mass outside of city hall.
     
Protest signs read ``Compassion not cruelty,'' ``Vote'' and ``November is coming.''
     
Protest organizer Michelle Wentz said opposition to the policy has seemed to cross political party lines. She called it a ``barbaric and inhumane'' policy.
     
Protesters continued to stream in to the area as people registered demonstrators to vote.
     
The hum of side conversations gave way to chants of ``We care!'' outside city hall.

- With files from the Associated Press and NEWSTALK1010