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Syracuse protesters denounce U.S. immigration policy separating families

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Protesters outside of Rep. John Katko's office.

Demonstrators in Syracuse took part in a “Families Belong Together” rally, happening across the country Thursday, to protest the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their families at the Southern border. The policy is meant to deter immigrants from crossing the border illegally. Protesters call it cruel, violent abuse and a moral outrage.

Irene Workman is a social worker who has worked with children who have been separated from their families by foster care or juvenile detention centers.

“It never ends well for them," Workman said. "It's a tough road to hoe and families belong together. There is no reason to be separating these children from their families. There is no reason for caging them. There is no reason to be treating them like animals."

Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media
WRVO Public Media
Sheila Sicilia holds a sign for Rep. John Katko.

Frank Schiraldi said he is not usually politically active but he said this is a new political time.

"I want us to go to that place where those kids are," Schiraldi said. "I feel it personally. I think people here do too. I want to bring us back to that, not being in the aura of protest only, but also be in the aura of thinking about the kids. It's happening right now. I think that if a lot of Americans think about that and think about what's going on, that this will end."

Protesters called on Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) to denounce Trump’s policy. Katko's office did not immiediately respond to a request for comment. The rally was organized by the Workers Center of Central New York, Syracuse Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network and CNY Solidarity Coalition.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.